The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday defended President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) announcement on Wednesday that he would seek re-election as KMT chairman next year, dismissing concerns about the timing of his declaration amid recent calls for him to step down from the position.
Ma told the KMT Central Standing Committee on Wednesday he would run in the KMT chairmanship election next year and called for party unity in face of the corruption scandal centered on former Executive Yuan secretary-general Lin Yi-shih (林益世).
The announcement was made amid recent calls for Ma to step down as party chairman and focus on his presidential responsibilities, and sparked concerns that Ma declared his intention in order to cement his power.
The KMT’s Culture and Communications Committee director Chuang Po-chun (莊伯仲) dismissed the concerns yesterday and said Ma made the announcement after Central Standing Committee member Chen Ming-yih (陳明義) asked him to explain his stance on the chairmanship issue.
In response to Chen’s call for Ma to clarify his intention at a time when the KMT is faced with various difficulties, the president reiterated that he would run in the election, he said.
“President Ma was surprised that Chen did not know his stance, but said he is willing to again make clear his decision that he would seek re-election as KMT chairman,” Chuang said.
Amid the corruption scandal involving Lin, a trusted aide of Ma, some KMT members, such as KMT Legislator Lo Shu-lei (羅淑蕾), questioned Ma’s choice of officials and urged him to quit as KMT chairman.
Calls for Ma to step down as KMT chairman were also made earlier, amid a public uproar over fuel and electricity price hikes in May, with some KMT Central Standing Committee members expressing concern about the impact of Ma’s plummeting approval ratings on the KMT. They suggested that one of the party’s hopefuls for the 2016 presidential election should take over as KMT chairman.
Ma has dismissed the calls and said he should continue to serve as party chairman to assure close cooperation between the party and the administration.
“The two announcements were made in response to committee members’ questions and President Ma did not take the initiative to make the announcement. There’s no political plot in it,” Chuang said.
Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) also defended Ma’s decision and said the president’s doubling as party chairman facilitated policy implementation.
Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) also expressed his support for Ma, saying that party unity should be the top priority for the KMT.
“Party unity is especially important when the situation is difficult for the KMT and it is important for the president to double as party chairman,” Hau said.