The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) is abolishing its highly controversial election strategy committee, KMT secretary-general Justin Huang (黃健庭) said yesterday, apologizing for causing public concern.
Despite the situation being resolved, internal tensions and political struggles are emerging in the KMT ahead of next year’s elections, seemingly caused by its nontransparent decisionmaking and apparent inability to cut ties with local “black gold” factions involved in organized crime and corruption.
The KMT released a list of its election strategy committee members on Wednesday, who would be responsible for the party’s nomination strategy and nominating candidates for the presidential and legislative elections next year.
However, several of the 10 members listed have controversial backgrounds or criminal records, and are widely considered to be closely linked to “black gold” — an image that the KMT has been trying to shed.
Huang, tapped to head the committee, has been convicted of tax evasion, while other committee members included KMT Legislator Fu Kun-chi, who spent time in prison for insider trading and stock manipulation, and former Tainan City Council speaker Lee Chuan-chiao (李全教), who was imprisoned for vote-buying.
After the list was revealed, many pan-blue political pundits criticized the KMT’s decision, while several KMT city councilors voiced their opposition, including Taipei City Councilor Chung Pei-chun (鍾沛君), who immediately resigned as deputy director-general of the KMT’s Culture and Communications Committee.
While KMT lawmakers are criticizing the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for engaging in “black gold” politics, as its Tainan City Council speaker and deputy speaker are being charged with vote-buying, the KMT should not select members for its committee who were involved in vote-buying, Chung said, adding that a sitting legislator should not be allowed to nominate himself.
New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜), whose ratings for potentially running as the KMT’s presidential candidate are the highest across opinion polls, on Thursday wrote on Facebook that he is “opposed to ‘black gold’ appearing in any political party, as the people will not accept any form of it,” and urged the party to be careful.
While Lee on Thursday said that he is not guilty of vote-buying, nor is he associated with “black gold,” Fu said Hou should take over the committee and “shoulder the responsibility” if he is not satisfied with the members.
KMT Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫) on Friday said that he and Hou firmly oppose “black gold” politics, but as the party has not decided its nomination mechanism, tensions remain.
Half of the committee members listed were the same as the committee for the nine-in-one elections last year. Despite the committee’s successes last year, young local councilors have criticized them for prioritizing the nomination of sitting lawmakers over party members holding other positions, which could block opportunities for younger party members to run for legislator.
Although Chu said that the KMT stands firmly against “black gold,” the party’s recent actions have instead highlighted its reliance on “black gold” politicians. In contrast, the DPP’s Central Executive Committee last month passed a clause to bar party members with a background in organized crime or with a criminal record to run as candidates in elections or become party officials.
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