President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday defended his bid to be re-elected as Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman amid growing challenges from within the party to his leadership. Ma called for party unity and insisted that he was seeking re-election for the future of the KMT and Taiwan.
“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 party-state mechanism. It is my responsibility and obligation to continue this task,” he said as he presided over a meeting of the KMT’s Central Standing Committee.
Pledging to lead both the party and the nation forward as KMT chairman, Ma dismissed recent criticism from Kao Yu-jen (高育仁), the former speaker of the defunct Taiwan Provincial Assembly, who accused Ma’s administration of being “plain incompetent” and focusing on personal gains.
“There has been criticism of us, and we are willing to reflect upon our performance. However, it is totally unacceptable that some people have said we focus on personal gain,” Ma said.
Kao, who is the father-in-law of New Taipei City (新北市) Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫), made the remark last week at a forum held by the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy. Kao’s comment triggered speculation about Chu’s political ambitions.
Ma defended his administration’s efforts to improve the economy and promote cross-strait relations and said he will continue with party reform if re-elected KMT chairman.
Ma is to register his candidacy with the party at noon today and will then take a month off from the chairmanship to campaign for re-election. Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) will accompany the president when he registers as a candidate.
The only other candidate, KMT Central Standing Committee member Hsieh Kun-hung (謝坤宏), had collected more than 10,000 signatures from party members as of yesterday. The chairmanship election will be held during the KMT’s party congress, which opens on July 20.