New Taipei Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) has emerged as the only candidate in the upcoming election for the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairmanship, the party said yesterday.
A total of 13 people, including Chu, had picked up registration forms for the election as of yesterday’s deadline, but only Chu has completed the procedure by paying a NT$2 million (US$62,889) administrative fee, KMT officials said.
The KMT is scheduled to hold a vote on Jan. 17 to elect a new chairman to replace President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who resigned as head of the party following its crushing defeat in the Nov. 29 local government elections.
Photo: Ho Yu-hua, Taipei Times
Chu announced his decision to run for the post on Friday, saying that as a KMT member, he ought to take responsibility for the party’s defeat in the elections and has no right to point fingers at others.
Taipei City Councilor Lee Hsin (李新), who on Friday picked up the forms needed to begin the election process, but left empty-handed after failing to pay the NT$2 million fee required to stand for election, yesterday announced his withdrawal from the race.
He said his standing for election was originally intended merely to spur more worthy candidates to pursue the leadership mantle.
“Now that Chu has picked up his forms and paid his fees, my objective is now accomplished, so I’ve decided to withdraw,” he said.
He also backed away from previous threats to sue for a provisional injunction against any chairmanship election which occurred before the KMT party charter is revised.
The current charter stipulates that any KMT president automatically serves as party chair, with no provision for a president resigning the chairmanship.
Speaking to reporters after declaring his candidacy for the chairmanship on Friday, Chu said that when he is at the helm of the KMT, in case of disagreement over a policy between the public and the government, the party would “stand on the public’s side without giving any consideration to whatever position the Presidential Office and the Executive Yuan hold on the issue.”
Chu said he believes that, under his leadership, caucus whips at the legislature and the party’s officials would all be on the same page.
As party chairman, Chu said he would speak out against the Executive Yuan to stop it from proposing misguided policies or from governing the country in a way that people do not think is right.
Chu’s remarks raised some eyebrows among officials in the upper echelons of the Ma administration and the party, sources said yesterday.
Chu’s remark on how the KMT, after he is elected as chairman, would interact with the government was interpreted in a way that instead of having the party work in one accord to assist the government, Chu desired to keep the government at arm’s length from the party, sources said.
A KMT official who asked to remain anonymous said that what Chu had said about the KMT standing by the public was bewildering, saying: “The Presidential Office and the Executive Yuan also stand by the people.”
It is wrong to separate the party from the government, sources said.
“We will wait and see whether [incoming] chairman Chu will present himself at the meeting or send the party’s secretary-general on his behalf,” the sources said.
KMT Central Standing Committee member Hsiao Ching-tien (蕭景田) said it would be hard for him to support Chu’s bid for the chairmanship if he did not specify how he would lead the party to interact with the government.
The party should play a role to assist the government with its needs or to point it in the right direction, so they do not end up pulling in different directions, Hsiao said.
“If the party didn’t buy the policies put forward by the government or the government didn’t listen to the party, the relationship between the party and the government would be weird,” he said.
Additional reporting by Abraham Gerber and CNA
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