A series of challenges awaits President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) as he prepares to take over the party chairmanship, analysts said yesterday.
Ma was elected KMT chairman in yesterday’s party election in which he was the sole candidate for the top post. He will take over the job on Sept. 12 during the party congress.
Ma, who had said he would not take over the KMT chairmanship during last year’s presidential campaign, changed his mind after assuming office and announced his candidacy last month in a bid to tighten his control over the legislature, the party and cross-strait affairs.
PHOTO: HOU CHENG-HSU, TAIPEI TIMES
Shih Cheng-feng (施正鋒), a political commentator at National Dong Hwa University, said Ma’s decision to double as party chairman was not surprising and that the KMT’s functions will be weakened under Ma’s leadership regardless of his support in yesterday’s election.
“Ma takes over the chairmanship in order to hold the KMT’s power in check and centralize his power, Shih said.
While Ma repeatedly he was not seeking the chairmanship to expand his power but to take more responsibility, Shih said it was clear that Ma wanted the job to push through his policies more effectively and to eliminate negative factors on his way to a second term as president.
As KMT chairman, Ma will have more control on the nomination of party candidates, especially after the redrawing of administrative zones following the mergers or upgrade of counties and cities.
However, challenges and opposition from local factions have delayed the KMT’s nomination process for local government head elections and finalizing candidates for the December’s polls will be Ma’s first task as chairman.
In Hualien, for example, five politicians registered for the KMT’s primary for the county commissioner election. However, the party called off the primary last month, reportedly because Ma wanted Minister of Health Yeh Ching-chuan (葉金川) to run in the election.
The KMT has had a hard time finalizing a candidate for the Yunlin County legislative by-election because former legislator Chang Sho-wen’s (張碩文) father, Chang Hui-yuan (張輝元) — who was found guilty of vote-buying in his first trial — insists on running in the election.
Shih said Ma, who has kept his distance from local factions, would have to deal with the local politics if he plans to nominate candidates with integrity as he has promised.
Wang Kun-yi (王崑義), a professor at National Taiwan Ocean University, said Ma’s doubling as KMT chairman will give him absolute power over the party, the legislature, the military and cross-strait affairs.
He said the Ma administration could become authoritarian if the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) failed to keep the KMT’s performance in check.
“Ma could rule the nation in an open yet authoritarian way. The DPP should prevent that from happening,” he said.
There has been intense speculation that Ma might attend a KMT-Chinese Communist Party (CCP) cross-strait forum in his role as KMT chairman to meet his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao (胡錦濤).
Taking control of the KMT’s communication channel with Beijing would help Ma eliminate the influence of old KMT heavyweights such as former KMT chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and outgoing KMT Chairman Wu Poh-hisung (吳伯雄), and claim full authority over cross-strait affairs, Wang said.
Yang Tai-shun (楊泰順), a political science professor at Chinese Culture University, said the main reason Ma wanted the KMT job was to implement his cross-strait policies and control of cross-strait affairs.
Ma could use the KMT’s legislative majority to amend the Constitution, Shih said. He said Ma should ponder the three-way relationship between the Presidential Office, the Executive Yuan and the Legislative Yuan because taking over the chairmanship alone would not solve the power struggle between the three.
It took director Chong Keat Aun (張吉安) nearly a decade to complete Snow in Midsummer (五月雪), a deft chronicle of Malaysia’s May 13 incident told through one woman’s search for her brother and father. Although only his second feature, it led the field at yesterday’s Golden Horse Awards with nine nominations. Chong said it had been a struggle to get people to share their memories of the intercommunal violence following the 1969 national election, known among the country’s ethnic Chinese community as “513.” “My father, for example, would shut the conversation down if my mother or grandma even mentioned the topic,” Chong said
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) yesterday said that a surge in respiratory illnesses in China has been caused by at least seven types of pathogens, and small children, elderly people and immunocompromised people should temporarily avoid unnecessary visits to China. The recent outbreak of respiratory illnesses in China is mainly in the north and among children, CDC Deputy Director-General Philip Lo (羅一鈞) said on Monday. Data released by the Chinese National Health Commission on Sunday showed that among children aged one to four, the main pathogens were influenza viruses and rhinoviruses, while among children aged five to 14, the main pathogens
A new poll of Taiwanese voters found the top opposition candidate for president jumping past the ruling party’s hopeful into the lead position ahead of January’s election — the latest twist in a drama-filled race. Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) presidential candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) had an approval rating of 31.9 percent versus 29.2 percent for the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) presidential candidate Vice President William Lai (賴清德), the poll released yesterday by the Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation showed. The Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) presidential candidate, New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜), ranked third with 23.6 percent, according to the survey conducted
A New Taipei City hotpot restaurant could be fined after a rat dropped from the ceiling and landed on a customer’s plate last week, the New Taipei City Department of Health said yesterday after conducting an inspection. A woman recently posted on the “I am a Banciao resident” (我是板橋人) social media group saying that she had been eating with a friend at Chien Tu Shabu Shabu Hotpot Restaurant’s Shuangshi B branch in Banciao District (板橋). “While still eating, a big rat suddenly dropped down from the ceiling, landing on a plate next to a hotpot,” she said. “Later on, a member of