Former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫) yesterday shrugged off pressure from KMT members to endorse a party chairperson hopeful.
Chu and former Council of Labor Affairs minister Jennifer Wang (王如玄) attended a gathering at the KMT’s local branch in Miaoli County yesterday morning to thank party members and supporters for their efforts during last month’s elections.
In addition to about 200 party members and supporters, the event was attended by two party chairperson hopefuls, acting KMT chairperson Huang Min-hui (黃敏惠) and former legislative speaker Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱).
As Hung had not arrived when the event began, the KMT’s Miaoli County Commissioner Hsu Yao-chang (徐耀昌) asked Chu whether his appearance with Huang at the gathering insinuated his endorsement of her.
“You should admit if the answer is yes and deny if the answer is no. Miaoli residents are simple people,” Hsu said, urging Chu to clarify his position “to prevent critics of the KMT from driving wedges within the party.”
Chu said: “They have yet to register their candidacy.”
The KMT’s upcoming chairperson by-election, scheduled for March 26, has been described as a race between the party’s pro-local and pro-China factions, with Huang representing the former and Hung the latter.
The party’s leadership was left vacant after Chu stepped down to take responsibility for the KMT’s defeat in last month’s presidential and legislative elections.
Chu later said at the event that the by-election is a race within “the KMT family” and that both Hung and Huang are devoted to their party and nation.
“As long as the race is a fair competition, we will all unite together at the end of the day regardless of who wins the election,” Chu said, adding that the party cannot afford to be divided.
In related developments, all four candidates in the KMT chairperson by-election are due to officially register their candidacy and submit the signatures they have collected to the party headquarters today.
According to their plans, Huang, Taipei City Councilor Lee Hsin (李新) and KMT Legislator Apollo Chen (陳學聖) are to register as candidates in the morning, while Hung is scheduled to complete the process in the afternoon.
Huang and Hung have each collected more than 60,000 signatures, while Chen and Lee have about 20,000 and 25,000 signatures respectively.
According to KMT by-election rules, only those who manage to collect signatures from at least 3 percent of the party’s estimated 320,000 members are allowed to take part in the race.
The KMT headquarters is to determine the validity of the signatures between tomorrow and Thursday before announcing the eligible candidates on Friday.
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