Virus Outbreak: KMT elections to proceed, if no ban

By Shih Hsiao-kuang, Chen Yun and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

Fri, Feb 14, 2020 - Page 3

The Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) elections for party chairperson and Central Standing Committee members would not be postponed unless the government bans public gatherings due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the KMT said yesterday.

KMT Culture and Communications Committee acting director Alicia Wang (王育敏) made the comments after former KMT chairwoman Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) called for the voting, set for March 7, to be postponed.

Disease prevention equipment would be available at voting sites, Wang said.

The KMT expects that only half of the about 200,000 eligible voters would turn out, she said, adding that lines should be short, as there are to be numerous polling stations.

Meanwhile, Wang accused the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) of politicizing the issue of flying Taiwanese stranded in China home amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

The DPP’s rapid change of mind on whether to allow the children of Taiwanese-Chinese couples was because KMT Legislator Lin Yi-hua (林奕華) sought clarity on the issue, but the claims are only an act to divert attention away from Mainland Affairs Council Minister Chen Ming-tong (陳明通), Wang said.

The DPP is adopting resolutions the KMT proposed, such as subsidies for those taking disease prevention leave and for industries affected by COVID-19, Wang said, adding that DPP legislators challenged the need for a subsidy fund.

The government must clarify what is delaying a second wave of Taiwanese from flying home: China’s reticence, or Taiwan’s disease prevention conerns, she said.

Wang said she was not optimistic that a second flight would happen, as the council has not clarified the situation and the issue has become overly politicized.

KMT legislative caucus members Lin Wei-chou (林為洲) and Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安) spoke with members of the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) about possible collaboration on legislation, including a bill for the COVID-19 fund and a plan to lower the legal age of majority to 18.

TPP caucus whip Lai Hsiang-ling (賴香伶) said that the KMT has provided the TPP with much-needed experience regarding the Legislative Yuan, to which the TPP are newcomers.

Both sides agreed on lowering the legal age of majority to 18, while the TPP said it would review the proposed fund, which would include corporate tax subsidies, loan extensions and in-house quarantines.

However, the TPP would like disease prevention leave, how subsidies are distributed and a core demand for fiscal discipline added to the proposal.

Already allocated funds should not be used for the proposed plan, Chiang said, adding that the money must be used under the legislature’s oversight and specifically for disease-prevention efforts.