President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) announcement last week that he would run for a second term as the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) chairman has drawn mixed reactions from members of the party’s Central Standing Committee.
Committee member Hsiao Ching-tien (蕭景田) said that more than half of the party representatives in local branches whom he visited in the past few days disagreed with Ma’s decision.
They say that Taiwan is facing an uncertain future economically and GDP growth may fall short of the Ma administration’s 3 percent target, Hsiao said, adding that in light of the possibility of another economic crisis, they were worried whether the government was capable of meeting the challenge.
Stressing the fact that none of the members he talked to doubted Ma’s resolve to serve out his term with rectitude, Hsiao nonetheless pointed out that the Ma administration had been embarrassed by the corruption allegations centered on former Executive Yuan secretary-general Lin Yi-shih (林益世).
Lin was accused of taking US$63 million (US$2.15 million) in bribes from Ti Yung owner Chen Chi-hsiang (陳啟祥) for facilitating a slag treatment contract between Chen’s company and a China Steel subsidiary. Lin, who resigned from his Executive Yuan post on June 29, was detained on July 2 as investigators began probing the case.
According to Hsiao, Ma ordered the establishment of the Anti-Corruption Administration to prevent officials from becoming corrupt, but instead of achieving that goal his administration has been hit by the Lin case. Many of the party representatives at local branches said that the cause of the corruption problem was not the absence of an anti-corruption mechanism, but rather Ma’s choice of people for governmental posts, Hsiao added.
They said that they wished to see Ma concentrate on state affairs and “see if things could be turned around,” Hsiao said, adding he would pass the advice along to Ma at the appropriate time.
An Executive Yuan administrative consultant native to southern Taiwan said that after the Lin case surfaced, many were of the opinion that Ma should not double as party chairman.
Public opinion on this is very simple: Someone must take responsibility, the consultant said. If Premier Sean Chen (陳冲) did not step down over Lin’s alleged bribery, then Ma stepping down from his post as party chairman would be an alternate form of shouldering political responsibility, said the official, who declined to be named.
However, not all public opinion is opposed to Ma doubling as party chairman.
Lee Chuan-chiao (李全教), another Central Standing Committee member, said Ma’s decision was not unanimously opposed. There were opposing voices, but there are also those that support Ma running for party chairman, he said.
Ho Tsai-feng (侯彩鳳), another committee member, said that everyone was entitled to their own opinion, adding that there was no one in the party who would challenge Ma for the position anyway.