Sun, Apr 07, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Factional sparring threatens KMT unity, sources say

DIVISIONS:Sources say the party has been split into pro-Lien family and pro-President Ma Ying-jeou camps by the recent string of bribery scandals involving Ma’s proteges

By Shih Hsiao-kuang and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Factional friction within the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) seems to be on the rise once again as party members with close links to President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) keep becoming embroiled in corruption and bribery scandals, a party source said recently.

KMT Taipei City Councilor Lai Su-ju (賴素如), a lawyer and a close aide of Ma who also ran the KMT chairman’s office for the president, has been accused of taking bribes in connection with the Taipei Twin Towers project. She was detained on March 30.

Another of Ma’s proteges, former Executive Yuan secretary-general Lin Yi-shih (林益世), was indicted on corruption charges in October last year, with prosecutors requesting that he be given a life sentence.

According to the source, Sean Lien (連勝文), one of former vice president Lien Chan’s (連戰) sons, and KMT Central Standing Committee member Lee Te-wei (李德維) — a close friend of Sean Lien’s — have been inviting KMT representatives and committee members, most of whom are young to middle-aged, to attend a spring gathering at a restaurant owned by the Lien family.

At a time when some party members have been calling for Ma to step aside as KMT chairman and not run for another term, the gathering at the restaurant of pro-Lien members, dubbed the “Lien Family Squad” (連家班) by the Chinese-language media, has prompted speculation about its meaning.

The source said that after Sean Lien made some controversial comments in November last year, there has been a silent power struggle between Ma’s supporters and the pro-Lien camp, adding that the conflict between the two factions intensified and became more divisive this year after Ma’s close confidantes were embroiled in scandals.

In last year’s remarks, Sean Lien said that, with the exception of a politically oriented minority, the majority of Taiwanese could not care less about who will run for Taipei mayor next year and that whoever is elected amid the sluggish domestic economy “could be, at the very most, the master of a beggar clan.”

KMT Central Committee member Hsu Hung-ting (徐弘庭), an open supporter of the Liens, said on April 1 that he would be attending the KMT chairmanship election in July. Although Hsu later said it was a joke, sources said the comment made it evident that the younger generation of KMT members were starting to make a power play.

Meanwhile, Lee on Friday confirmed that he and other KMT members have scheduled a lunch gathering with younger members from across the country.

Despite saying that the meeting was an annual event, Lee added that the gathering was aimed at coming up with some solutions to the issues facing the KMT.

The ruling party is being weakened and is on the verge of becoming an illusory organization and no KMT member wants to see that happen, he said.

“I am a passionate member of the party,” Lee said, adding that he had cried in a corner when Ma stepped down as party chairman in 2007 after being accused of misusing his special mayoral allowance fund.

However, Lee added that after the KMT returned to power in 2008, the expectation and support for Ma and his administration had proved to be too much.

He said that the lunch gathering would also explore the possibility of the younger generation coming to the fore of the party leadership. However, since the KMT is not a small party, the younger generation would have to read the lie of the political landscape closely, he added.

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