Top Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) politicians, including Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌), New Taipei City (新北市) Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) and Greater Taichung Mayor Jason Hu (胡志強) yesterday pledged their support for President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) re-election as party chairman, calling for unity amid concern there may be a low turnout for Saturday’s election.
In one of the last campaign activities before the poll, Hau and Chu led KMT officials, councilors and party members from their cities at a campaign event at the Taipei City Council in throwing their support behind Ma.
Hu, who was invited to the event by the KMT’s Taipei City branch, joined Chu and Hu in linking Ma’s re-election to the party’s performance in next year’s seven-in-one local elections and the 2016 presidential election.
“Do not mistake Saturday’s election for Chairman Ma as a personal matter. There are people who want to hit him hard with the election. However, it’s a crucial election that will affect the KMT’s momentum in next year’s elections, and the presidential election,” Hu said.
Hau defended the Ma administration’s efforts to revive the economy and improve cross-strait relations, saying a high turnout on Saturday would secure the nation’s development.
Chu, who did not attend a previous campaign activity in New Taipei City, dismissed rumors about his lack of support for Ma.
“President Ma’s doubling as KMT chairman will be an advantage for the party, the people and the nation. We must all come out and vote for Chairman Ma on Saturday and prove the party’s unity with a great turnout,” Chu said.
Amid cheers from a roomful of supporters, Ma reiterated that only by doubling as KMT chairman can the party and the government work closely to effectively implement government policies.
“The government and the party have worked very closely together in the four years since I became KMT chairman, and we are able to present achievements under the one party-state mechanism. It is my responsibility and obligation to continue this task,” he said.
Ma is the only candidate in Saturday’s election. KMT Central Standing Committee member Hsieh Kun-hung (謝坤宏) was disqualified after he failed to collect enough signatures from party members.
Unhappiness with Ma’s bid have cast a shadow on a presumably easy victory. Several KMT lawmakers, members of the party’s Youth League and grassroots members have expressed concern about the impact of Ma’s record-low approval rating as president on the party.
There have also been reports that members of the party’s local branches in Greater Taichung and several other cities plan either to cast invalid ballots or not take part in the vote, which will be held during the party’s national congress.