Signature drives to support President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) re-election bid for the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairmanship began last week, amid questions from some party members about the legitimacy of the signature collections before the official election registration procedures start next month.
Ma has vowed to seek another term as KMT chairman, despite suffering a leadership crisis in the party due to his low national approval ratings as president.
The KMT’s Greater Tainan branch director Hsieh Lung-chieh (謝龍介) confirmed that local legislators and party associations have launched signature drives for Ma.
KMT Central Standing Committee (CSC) member Hsieh Kun-hung (謝坤宏), who plans to run in the election, also said that signature drives to support Ma’s chairmanship bid have been launched in some cities and counties, and expressed concern that the party is misusing its resources to campaign for the president in the election.
“I am fighting a tough battle with a big army in the chairman ship election … I expect to run a fair race with President Ma, but I am afraid that the party will play tricks and make me lose the candidacy,” he said.
The election is scheduled for July, and the party will launch candidate registration procedures next month, once the CSC has approved election procedures. Signatures from 3 percent of party members with voting rights, or about 10,000 members, are required to become a candidate in the election.
KMT spokesman Yin Wei (殷瑋) yesterday said that the signature drives were not initiated by the party, and that the party would maintain its neutrality.
Ma was elected KMT chairman in 2005, but resigned in 2007, when he was embroiled in a corruption case amid claims that he head misused his special allowance fund during his tenure as Taipei mayor.
The post was taken over by Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄), who served as party chairman until 2009. Ma was found not guilty of graft in 2008 and re-elected as party chairman in 2009.
Ma collected more than 9,000 signatures when running in the chairmanship election in 2009. Pundits said the launching of signature drives ahead of the official registration day reflects worries about Ma’s leadership and poor approval ratings, both as the president and as KMT chairman.
Ma, who met with local party members in Yilan County, did not comment on the early signature drives. He said the government will continue working closely with the party to understand public opinion and address issues effectively.
“The timing of the reforms and policies we presented and the measures we used to carry out the policies did attract some criticism, and the government is working hard to improve the situation. The government and the party will continue to work closely and seek solutions to problems more effectively,” he said.