President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) launched his campaign for the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairmanship election yesterday by visiting Taoyuan, Hsinchu and Miaoli counties, calling for party unity amid a series of challenges being made to his leadership.
Ma, the only candidate in next month’s election, touted the cooperation between the administrative and legislative branches of the government in passing major bills, and said the nation would continue to benefit from the smooth running of the “party-state mechanism.”
“Close cooperation between the party and the government is crucial for the implementation of policies, and providing support to and assisting with government policies are the permanent duties of KMT members,” he said at a meeting of party delegates and local councilors in Hsinchu County.
Former Hsinchu mayor Lin Junq-tzer (林政則) accompanied Ma to the meetings, urging local party members to support Ma’s re-election campaign in a bid to inspire enthusiasm and quell lukewarm attitudes toward the election.
“It’d be embarrassing if the poll turnout is too low,” he said.
Ma became the sole candidate in the election after the other hopeful, KMT Central Standing Committee member Hsieh Kun-hung (謝坤宏), was disqualified on Wednesday after the KMT’s election review commission ruled that only 6,610 of the 20,952 signatures Hsieh collected were valid.
Ma’s bid was approved after he delivered 82,786 signatures to the commission, 59,925 of which were declared valid.
According to the KMT, about 380,000 party members are eligible to vote in the election, while those interested in entering the race must obtain the endorsement of 3 percent, or about 12,000, of the voters.
Hsieh’s appeal to the party for a second review was unsuccessful, leaving Ma with no rivals in the July 20 election.
Ma yesterday also took the opportunity to defend the cross-strait service trade agreement, saying that the pact will create more job opportunities for Taiwanese.
“The nation will face more challenges ahead and only by continuing our efforts can we earn the trust of the public,” he said.
Yang Wei-chung (楊偉中), Ma’s re-election campaign office spokesman, said the president will visit at least three cities or counties a day on weekends to enhance his relationship with party members.
Ma, who was first elected as chairman in 2005, is taking a leave of absence from his post to conduct his campaign.