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Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou registers for KMT leadership race
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2009-06-25 05:07 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – President Ma Ying-jeou registered Thursday as the sole candidate for the Kuomintang chairmanship election.

He turned up at the KMT headquarters in the company of incumbent Wu Poh-hsiung during the noon hours to avert criticism that he was waging party politics during government working time. The president brought with him 138,000 signatures of party members, far more than the 15,000 required for registration.

His campaign chief, Legislative Vice Speaker Tseng Yung-chuan, had asked each lawmaker to drum up at least 500 signatures.

After the formalities were completed, Ma delivered a campaign speech. “I am running in the elections to take on new historic responsibilities, not to expand my power,” he said.

The president said he wanted to take the KMT into a “democratic, clean, effective future” to comply with public expectations.

He described the party’s regular Wednesday Central Standing Committee meeting as a platform for exchanging opinions, and called on party leaders to exchange views on important projects before they reached the Legislative Yuan. Early interaction would prevent the Legislature from ending up with no legislation passed, Ma said.

The next legislative session does not start until September, but discussions about a lot of issues can be started right now, Ma said.

The opposition Democratic Progressive Party has said Ma’s election bid will lead to a dangerous concentration of power in the hands of one person, as the president will control a party which occupies over three quarters of the seats at the Legislative Yuan.

The election is scheduled for July 26, with the new chairman taking office at a party conference on September 12. Ma’s first major task could be the campaign for the year-end county and city elections.

Ma already chaired the KMT from 2005 to 2007, when he resigned after being indicted for the alleged abuse of special funds while mayor of Taipei. The case overshadowed his campaign for president, but the courts pronounced him not guilty, with the final verdict coming after his March 22, 2008 election victory.

At his registration news conference Thursday, Ma also said he was in favor of continuing regular party meetings between the KMT and China’s Communist Party, but was considering them to include more than just party officials.

With so much trade between the two sides, there was a need for expanded contacts between Taiwan and China, with government agencies also allowed to talk with their counterparts. If they hadn’t obtained approval from the government, then the agencies could only exchange views, and not take any important decisions, Ma said.

If the chairmen of the two parties continue their regular annual meetings, Ma could be up for a historic encounter next week with Communist Party leader and Chinese President Hu Jintao.

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