Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng confirmed at the weekend that Minister Without Portfolio Yang Chiu-hsing (楊秋興) would join the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), but Yang denied the move was made with next year’s Greater Kaohsiung mayoral election in mind.
Speaking to reporters at the opening of a trade fair in Greater Kaohsiung, Wang said he was one of several KMT members who had recommended Yang for membership.
However, Wang said he did not know if Yang, who ran the former Kaohsiung County when he was a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) member, had filed his application for KMT membership.
The speaker shrugged off a question on whether he would support Yang if he entered the mayoral race.
Yang on Sunday said he has not yet filed his application for party membership, even though KMT leaders have repeatedly asked him to join the ruling party over the past six months.
He denied reports that he was joining the party for the purposes of representing it in the Grearer Kaohsiung election, saying that it was because he supported the KMT’s policies on pension reform and, especially, its approach to cross-strait affairs.
Furthermore, it was only natural for a Cabinet member to be part of the ruling party, Yang added.
The Chinese-language China Times on Sunday said Yang, who doubles as the chief of the Executive Yuan’s Southern Taiwan Service Center, has been working hard to broaden his support in the municipality in preparation for a likely mayoral bid.
Since the KMT will begin searching for candidates for next year’s polls after President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) secures another term as KMT chairman this month, Yang has to get party membership as soon as possible, the paper said.
It added that the KMT needs Yang to win Greater Kaohsiung, which has been controlled by the DPP since 1998.
Yang ran unsuccessfully in the municipality’s mayoral race in 2010, when Kaohsiung city and county were merged. Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊), then the incumbent, won the DPP’s nomination for the post over Yang, prompting Yang to quit the party and run as an independent candidate.
He was recruited by Ma to join the Cabinet last year.