Thu, Apr 17, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Ma pledges party reform, KMT members unimpressed

By Shih Hsiao-kuang, Su Fang-ho and Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

Several Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers have dismissed a plan announced by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) at a party caucus meeting on Tuesday to usher in party reforms, saying that Ma’s priority should be reconciling with Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平).

Ma, who also serves as KMT chairman, pledged at the meeting to reform the party’s organization, propaganda and new media divisions following the conclusion of the Sunflower movement’s occupation of the Legislative Yuan against the handling of the controversial cross-strait service trade agreement on Thursday last week.

“The party is at a critical moment right now. The recent student movement and the upcoming seven-in-one elections have been and will continue to be the toughest challenges the party has ever had to face. We must overcome these challenges with reforms,” Ma said at the meeting.

Ma said the movement uncovered the party’s failure to grasp online culture and what most concerned the younger generation, which he planned to tackle first by holding a forum with young people on Sunday.

He said that every member of the KMT, including himself, was in desperate need of self-reflection.

However, most KMT lawmakers attending the meeting were more concerned about the party headquarters’ decision on Thursday last week to appeal a Taipei District Court ruling that allowed Wang to retain his party membership.

The KMT’s disciplinary committee decided to strip Wang of his party membership in September last year over his alleged role in an improper lobbying case.

Wang subsequently filed a provisional injunction with the court to retain his party membership until the case is settled in court, which he was granted.

Ma reiterated at the meeting that the filing of the appeal was “an undesirable but necessary move” to ensure the stability of the KMT’s disciplinary system and the smooth operation of the party.

KMT Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方) urged Ma to withdraw the appeal as a gesture of goodwill, saying that the president’s refusal to do so could cost the party its chance of winning in the seven-in-one elections on Nov. 29.

KMT Legislator Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆), who is considered a pro-Ma legislator, also called on Ma to put an end to his legal battle with the longest-serving legislative speaker.

“However, since Ma has appeared to be reluctant to accept our advice, the issue will probably hit a dead end... Some of my colleagues are pretty frustrated with not being able to see the matter being dealt with in a better manner,” Lai said.

KMT Legislator Wang Huei-mei (王惠美) said Ma should listen to the public as the majority of people were hoping to see the KMT drop the case against Wang.

Another KMT lawmaker, who spoke on condition of anonymity, shrugged off Ma’s oft-stated determination to reform the party and the government, saying that the president’s talks of reform were meaningless when he could not even put aside his stubbornness to listen to others’ advice about Wang’s case.

Additional reporting by Chen Yan-ting, Chung Li-hua, Lai Hsiao-tung and Sung Hsiao-hai

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