The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday said that it does not plan to hold polls targeting only pan-blue supporters as a measure to assure party loyalty in the candidate nomination process for the next election, and insisted that it respects freedom of expression after party members voiced their objection to KMT Legislator Lo Shu-lei’s (羅淑蕾) open criticism of the party.
Lo, a former member of the People First Party, has been a regular critic of the KMT and President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration. She often questions the KMT’s policies in political TV talk shows and has voted against the party line on a joint motion — initiated by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Taiwan Solidarity Union — to immediately stop construction of the controversial Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Gongliao District (貢寮).
KMT Deputy Chairwoman Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱), who also serves as the deputy legislative speaker, on Tuesday accused Lo of undermining the party’s reputation with her criticism of party policies. She said yesterday that many grassroots supporters shared her concern about Lo’s outspokenness, and called on the KMT to step up its efforts to increase the party’s forward momentum.
KMT Central Standing Committee member Hsieh Lung-chieh (謝龍介) joined Hung in questioning Lo’s loyalty to the party, accusing her of being an opportunist who tries to please voters in both the pan-blue and pan-green camps.
He suggested that the KMT make adjustments to its election nomination mechanism and hold polls among only KMT supporters to nominate members with a solid support base in the pan-blue camp.
“It’s okay to question the mistakes the government makes, but non-stop criticism of your own party is an act of opportunism to please voters … Holding polls during the nomination process would eliminate party politicians who are popular outside the pan-blue camp and stop opportunists,” he said.
Lo won the party primary in 2011 over former KMT legislator John Chiang (蔣孝嚴) and stood for the party in the legislative election in Taipei City’s Zhongshan District (中山). Chiang had complained about the primary mechanism that allowed Lo to win the polls in the district, which has a large pan-green support base, and questioned Lo’s loyalty to the KMT.
KMT spokesman Yin Wei (殷瑋) yesterday called for party unity in response to disputes over Lo’s behavior, and said the party does not have plans to change its mechanism for the primaries.
“We respect party members’ freedom of expression, although we expect them to discuss the party’s performance based on facts … The KMT has not yet launched the primary mechanism for the next election, so there are no plans to hold polls that exclude pan-green supporters,” he said.
Lo yesterday dismissed criticism of her behavior and said the party has largely ignored her support of government policies, such as imposing a capital gains tax.