For this reason, Wu, who was rumored to have also been involved in Lin’s bribery case — an allegation which Wu denied — and whose approval ratings have never been stellar, is believed to be less likely to win Ma’s favor.
As for Chu, analysts said that his perceived attempt to blaze his own path in the political arena appeared to have alienated him from the KMT’s power center, despite having kept a relatively low profile.
“As far as Ma is concerned, Chu is a capable competitor who not only has the people’s support, but also has the ability to ‘cripple’ him before he completes his second presidential term,” the analysts said.
In November last year, Chu delivered a speech at a symposium of a pan-green think tank, a move that won him positive appraisals from several pan-green heavyweights, some of who even urged him to run in the 2016 presidential election.
However, Chu’s rapprochement effort with the pan-green camp was frowned upon by some of Ma’s close aides, who were said to have quickly jumped to Ma’s defense.
Sources said that Chu further provoked the ire of Ma’s aides when he was interviewed by a pan-green media outlet in December last year, with some being eager to ascertain whether Chu initiated the interview.
Having served as Greater Taichung mayor for more than a decade, Hu has yet to be allowed entry into the government’s power center, despite Ma taking office in 2008.
According to sources from the pan-blue camp, Hu has been regarded as a threat to Ma because of his strong public relations skills and popularity, ans because he was chosen in an opinion poll as the “most suitable KMT member to take the party’s helm.”
Ma’s move to appoint Greater Taichung Deputy Mayor Hsiao Chia-chi (蕭家淇) as deputy minister of the interior in the latest Cabinet reshuffle also indicates that he does not want Hu to seek another term as Taichung mayor, the sources said, which also obliquely denies Hu the opportunity of taking up other higher government positions.
The sources said that while Ma has long displayed cronyism, he would still seek to edge out aides who are more competent than him and share too many similarities with him, a category to which Hu belongs.
Following Hu’s narrow victory in the 2010 Taichung mayoral election over Democratic Progressive Party candidate Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全), speculation has emerged that the KMT headquarters is mulling putting up other party members — such as Changhua County Commissioner Cho Po-yuan (卓伯源) — as candidates in the constituency.
However, Cho might have to take a back seat to other KMT candidate hopefuls in next year’s mayoral election, after his reputation was tarnished by a recent corruption scandal involving his brother, Cho Po-chung (卓伯仲).
Meanwhile, political watchers said that Hau serving as the mayor of the nation’s capital might not necessarily earn him a competitive edge in the KMT’s ongoing power struggle, because his lack of interaction with party comrades has weakened his political momentum in the party.
According to a KMT Taipei City councilor, who is deemed one of Ma’s aides and who requested anonymity, Hau knows that for him to become a national political figure, he has to expand his political influence in southern Taiwan — a traditional stronghold of the pan-green camp.