KMT member suggests name change for party

TAIWAN IDENTITY: A member of the Central Standing Committee thinks the party should rename itself the `Taiwan Nationalist Party' and also merge with the PFP

By Huang Tai-lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Thu, Nov 20, 2003 - Page 3

A member of the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) Central Standing Committee yesterday suggested the party change its name to the "Taiwan Nationalist Party."

Hung Yu-chin (洪玉欽), who was elected to the committee in August with the most votes of any member, said during the committee's weekly meeting that the party should change its name to strengthen its pro-Taiwan, pro-localization image.

Hung also proposed merging the KMT with the People First Party (PFP), ahead of next March's presidential election, in order to strengthen their cooperation.

Given the sensitivity of Hung's suggestions, KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) ordered the party's policy-making department to review the proposals and they were not discussed further.

Another suggestion was also making waves among top party members yesterday.

Yunlin County Commissioner Chang Jung-wei (張榮味) suggested in Yunlin yesterday that Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) take over the party chairmanship temporarily while Lien is campaigning for the presidency.

Chang proposed that Wang fill in for Lien during the 40 days before the March 20 poll to highlight the KMT's pro-localization image as well as to allow Lien to focus on his campaign.

Wang, a Kaohsiung County native, is regarded by many pan-blue supporters as the key representative of the pro-localization faction.

Wang appeared to be caught off-guard by the proposal, telling reporters, "I don't know why Chang made such a suggestion."

After a brief moment he went on to say, "I am not the first in-line vice chairman, I am the second in-line vice chairman, so logically [Chang's] suggestion is impossible."

The KMT has six vice chairmen, with former premier Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) the most senior.

When further pressed by the media about whether he would accept such a temporary posting if Siew did not want it, Wang, noting "the issue is sensitive," said he would not comment further.

Lien's only comment was that "all would go according to party procedure."

Party Secretary-General Lin Fong-cheng (林豐正), however, said that "the KMT is already a pro-localization party."

"It is a moderate pro-localization party and not radical one," he said.

Chang's suggestion drew a mixed response from the KMT's pro-localization faction.

"Chang's idea is very good," said KMT Legislator Chen Hung-chang (陳宏昌). "The suggestion would greatly elevate Lien's electoral outlook."

"It would not only allow Lien to focus on his campaign but also would further strengthen the party's pro-localization image with the voters," he said, adding several other members shared his views.

KMT Legislator Lee Chuan-chiao (李全教), another Central Standing Committee member, was more reserved.

While noting that Chang's suggestion does open room for discussion and acknowledging that Wang's stepping into the chairmanship temporarily "would more or less be helpful to Lien's electoral outlook," Lin said the idea wasn't really open for discussion.

"An issue like this should be initiated by Lien himself, whether he sees a need to have a substitute while he is on the campaign trail," Lin said.

"If Lien sees no such need, it is rather inappropriate for others to make such call," he said.

In other election-related news, the KMT yesterday proposed Dec. 25 as the date of the first presidential election debate.