Candidates to chair the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday gathered to solicit support from retired military personnel in the chairperson by-election, pledging to build a better KMT while lamenting the party headquarters’ decision not to hold a televised debate among the hopefuls.
The Veterans Association of the Republic of China held a Lunar New Year banquet in Taipei yesterday morning, which was attended by the candidates KMT Acting Chairperson Huang Min-hui (黃敏惠), former deputy legislative speaker Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱), KMT Legislator Apollo Chen (陳學聖) and Taipei City Councilor Lee Hsin (李新).
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) also attended the event.
Photo: Chien Jung-fung, Taipei Times
Hung said in a speech that she would extend full support to whoever wins the KMT’s chairperson by-election on Mar. 26 in the hope of uniting the party.
“Some people have slandered me and claimed that I would push for reforming the KMT into the New Party if elected chairperson. I have to urge you not to take such allegations too seriously,” Hung said.
Hung said it requires magnanimity to lead the KMT, vowing to reinvigorate the party’s core values and ideas, ensuring that the party fulfills its responsibility to supervise and assist the government.
Huang, who arrived one hour later, also made a speech, in which she apologized for the KMT’s defeat in January’s presidential and legislative elections.
“If the KMT wants to dust itself off and pick itself up, the party must do right by the nation and its people, which is the party’s primary task and also its biggest challenge,” Huang said.
Huang, who was appointed interim KMT chairperson after New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) stepped down following his defeat at the polls, said the KMT should endeavor to recover its spirit and core values, defend the nation and safeguard the existence of the Republic of China (ROC).
The chairperson by-election is a race within the KMT that is designed to elect a party leader who can expand the party’s path and restore public recognition of the party, Huang said.
Chen and Lee did not give speeches, but they tried to garner the support of the veterans.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) made a surprise appearance at the event, expressing his party’s intention to establish dialogue with the KMT’s traditional supporters.
Ker, convener of the DPP caucus, spoke after Ma and Huang, admitting that his party is not familiar with veterans’ groups and had no contact with pro-KMT groups in the past.
Ker said that after the DPP takes power in May, veterans’ rights and welfare would still be protected.
However, some of the veterans shouted their disagreement throughout the lawmaker’s speech.
Lee took the stage and asked Ker to promise that the DPP would not abolish the ministry-level Veterans Affairs Council.
Ker said the DPP is not contemplating any changes to the council and is seeking to end the confrontation between the opposing green and blue political camps.
Prior to the banquet, some KMT chair candidates voiced their disappointment at the party headquarters’ decision on Wednesday to hold only two televised debates for the candidates for sake of protecting party unity.
“I wonder what is the logic behind the KMT headquarters’ association of debates with damaging party unity,” Lee said, adding that he would make it his mission to put an end to the party’s ill-reputed “one voice” culture.
Chen said televised debates would give KMT members a clear and more thorough understanding of each candidate’s views and ideas.
“People do not have to worry about debates jeopardizing party solidarity. If even presidential candidates can debate their policies, having the party’s chairperson candidates do the same should not be a problem,” Chen said.
Hung said she does not have a stance on the issue, but added that it would be better if debates could be held.
Additional Reporting by CNA
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