Just one day after its defeat in the presidential election, the KMT found itself under siege yesterday as protesters, angry at the loss, lashed out at officials in Taipei.
KMT party chairman Lee Teng-hui (
Riot police resorted to batons and water cannon several times throughout the day in an effort to subdue and disperse the angry crowd in front of KMT headquarters demanding Lee's immediate resignation and blaming him personally for the KMT's defeat.
PHOTO: GEORGE TSORNG, TAIPEI TIMES
At press time, the streets around KMT headquarters were still occupied with thousands of demonstrators.
During a hastily called Central Standing Committee (CSC) meeting yesterday to conduct soul-searching over the party's election loss, Lee said that between now and an extraordinary session of the KMT's National Party Congress in September where the new leadership will be chosen, the party should concentrate on party reform. He advocated the immediate establishment of an ad hoc reform committee.
Outside, meanwhile, angry crowds vented their frustration by calling for Lee's immediate resignation, smashing car windows and even beating Hsu Li-teh (
"Lee step down! Lee step down!" the crowd chanted.
The protest continued into the night, with even Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (
Ma announced his resignation from his party position at the party's headquarters yesterday,along with other members of the party's leadership, including vice chairman Lien Chan (
PHOTO: GEORGE TSORNG, TAIPEI TIMES
"The chairman, secretary-general, deputy secretary-generals and department directors should all resign to take responsibility [for the failure]," Lee said.
"However, the most urgent thing for the time being is to unite our party members and to launch a complete reform," he said, calling on the party leadership to remain in place to lead the reform process.
A new leadership should be selected at September's party congress, at which time Lee would lead the collective resignation of the incumbent leadership, he said.
After the CSC meeting, KMT spokesman Huang Hwei-chen (
Asked whether Lee really intended to resign as chairman, Huang said it was obvious from Lee's remarks that he has decided to quit and would not seek renewal of his term.
Huang said that, according to the party's constitution, any change in the organization should be passed by the party's National Congress.
As to another demand of the crowd of protesters yesterday, that the party chairman post be directly elected by all party members, Huang said that according to the party's current regulations, the chairman is elected by the party's plenum, and a procedural change as major as this could only be made by the party's national congress.
Many CSC members, including Lien, were either deterred or prevented from attending yesterday's meeting by the protesters besieging the headquarters building.
One analyst said Lee's announcement was a good move both for himself and the party.
"It is better to take the initiative and set a date on leaving the post than be forced to do so," said Lin Chia-lung (
"It is a rational and convincing step," Lin said.
As to why Lee wanted to wait to step down, Lin said: "He is buying time to carry out reforms such as cleaning up party assets or restructuring the party."
Lin regarded the call for democratic reform by direct election of party chairman an issue less urgent than purging the party of gangsters and corrupt elements.
Also, he said, Lee still has an important role to play in smoothing the transition of power from the KMT to the DPP.
Who will succeed Lee is another big problem, Lin said.
"If the KMT cannot reach a consensus on its next leader, it can easily split again. And without the party assets, the KMT machine will no longer matter," he said. "Those who are not happy with the party will not find it difficult to depart."
As he announced his resignation from the CSC yesterday, Ma Ying-jeou cited a need for sweeping reforms to the party following its election defeat.
Ma said that high-ranking members are growing increasingly estranged from the rank and file.
"The KMT has 2 million members, and got about 2 million votes. Where are our members?" Ma said.
Ma encouraged other CSC members to quit so party members could elect their replacements.
He also agreed with the protesters that the party's grassroots members should directly elect the chairman.
Ma denied that his calls for reform came in response to yesterday's announcement that KMT maverick James Soong (
"No matter how many parties there are, the KMT should do everything within its power to democratize its procedures," Ma said.
Before the election, the KMT expelled dozens of its members who supported Soong's campaign, and may now lose more of its rank and file to his new party.
Meanwhile, worried about a stock market dive as a result of uncertainties created by Chen Shui-bian's election and the turmoil involving the KMT, Minister of Finance Paul Chiu (邱正雄) announced yesterday that the Taiwan Stock Exchange's daily downward limit would be halved to 3.5 percent for a two-week period.
TAIWAN PROTECTION MEASURE: US Army General Charles Flynn would not say where in the Asia-Pacific the missiles would be sent, but only that they would arrive in 2024 The US is to send medium-range missiles including the Standard Missile 6 (SM-6) and Tomahawk to the Asia-Pacific next year to deter a Chinese attack on Taiwan, US military news Web site Defense One reported. The report cited comments US Army General Charles Flynn made during the annual Halifax International Security Forum on Nov. 19. “We have tested them and we have a battery or two of them today,” Flynn was quoted as saying. “In 24. We intend to deploy that system in your region. I’m not going to say where and when. But I will just say that we will
UNUSUAL UPTICK: There are more flu-like illnesses in northern China than in the past 3 years, but data from Beijing showed that known pathogens are responsible Responding to an uptick in respiratory illnesses in China, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) yesterday said it has instructed international airport and port quarantine centers to raise their alert levels, and plans to issue an alert to healthcare practitioners. The number of flu-like illnesses reported in northern China has been increasing for five consecutive weeks, and is higher than the same period in the past three years, CDC Deputy Director-General Philip Lo (羅一鈞) said. “According to the WHO’s latest statement, issued yesterday, information provided by Chinese government showed that the illnesses were mainly reported among children, and the illnesses were attributed
LOYALTY: The 10 active and retired soldiers betrayed the nation and its people by leaking and passing on military secrets to China, the High Prosecutors’ Office said Ten former and current military officers were yesterday indicted on charges of spying for China, including two who allegedly filmed themselves pledging loyalty to Beijing. The High Prosecutors’ Office requested life imprisonment for the suspects in light of the severity of the crime. The 10 active-duty and retired officers included members of the 601st Brigade of the Aviation Special Forces comprising attack helicopter squadrons and elite combat units in charge of defending northern Taiwan, including Taipei. The other suspects came from Huadong Defense Command, in charge of defending the eastern coast; Kinmen Defense Command, in charge of defending Kinmen and Matsu; and one
‘OPEN TO DIALOGUE’: Her alliance with Vice President William Lai is based on their commitment to preserve the nation’s freedom and democracy, Hsiao Bi-khim said Taiwan should “trust, but verify” reports that Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) denied that Beijing plans to invade Taiwan in 2027, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) vice presidential candidate Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) told reporters yesterday. “We anticipate and we hope that Chairman Xi Jinping was sincere when he said there was no timetable” for bringing Taiwan under control by force, said Hsiao, who earlier this week resigned as the representative to the US to join the ticket of DPP nominee, Vice President William Lai (賴清德). Borrowing a phrase from former US president Ronald Reagan — which US President Joe Biden also used after