Tue, Oct 20, 2015 - Page 3 News List

INTERVIEW: Chu says he had to run for president ‘for democracy’

By Wang Yu-chung, Peng Hsien-chun, Liu Li-jen, Jonathan Chin and  /  Staff reporters, with staff writers

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Eric Chu gestures during an interview with the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) on Sunday.

Photo: Lo Pei-der, Taipei Times

Saying that his decision to accept the nomination as the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) presidential candidate, despite previous promises to the contrary, was “the only possible choice in a completely unexpected situation,” KMT Chairman and presidential candidate Eric Chu (朱立倫) asserted that his candidacy is necessary to prevent “single-party preponderance” after January’s presidential and legislative elections.

Chu made the remarks in an interview with the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) on Sunday, one day after he was selected as the KMT’s presidential candidate at an extempore KMT congress on Saturday, replacing Deputy Legislative Speaker Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱).

Chu said he was sincere when he promised on June 23 last year to serve his full term in his announcement to seek re-election in November last year as New Taipei City mayor. While admitting to have considered running in the presidential race prior to that announcement, he said the consensus of the KMT at that time was that he should “hold down” New Taipei City.

Referring to the results of last year’s nine-in-one local elections, Chu said: “Nobody could have foreseen that the KMT would suffer such a defeat, or that I would become KMT chairman.”

Chu said that, at the time, he held on to his pledge that he would not run for presidential office because he saw his role as an “outside mediator,” who could “rise above the disputes of my seniors” and “adjudicate with fairness and objectivity” the KMT nomination of its presidential candidate.

“My thoughts at the time were likely to have been overly simplistic,” he said.

Chu said that in April, after he, in his capacity as KMT chairman, decided that the party would not pursue its lawsuit against Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) over the latter’s KMT membership — a decision made by the former KMT disciplinary committee in 2013 when President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) chaired the party — all KMT politicians, including Wang, Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) and Hung were free, if they were so inclined, to run in the party’s presidential primary.

It turned out that only Hung formally registered her candidacy for the primary and that she acquired an approval rating of 46 percent in polls and was nominated as the party’s presidential candidate, Chu said.

“The situation [Hung’s nomination being revoked] has prompted me to make this hard decision. It was completely unexpected,” Chu said.

When asked why Wang was not nominated as the presidential candidate to replace Hung, Chu said: “It might have been possible if Hung withdrew voluntarily from the race, in which case, the party would have had more time and more room to maneuver. However, the party has run out of time and the extraordinary national congress was convened [on Saturday] instead to elect a replacement through the democratic process.”

“At this point, nobody should think that the final decision was a power play or a fight for spoils. We are taking responsibility collectively,” Chu said.

“The most important job for me as a chairman is to preserve he (和), which is [the Chinese character found] in harmony (和諧) and cooperation (合作). All of my communication with Wang has been sincere,” Chu said. “What Wang and I told you is what happened. Anyone else, including the people around us and the media, are just repeating hearsay.”

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