Challenges from ex-president’s group reveal KMT cracks

The China Post staff

A new crack in the opposition Kuomintang is starting to show as a key leader of the new political group formed by former President and KMT Chairman Lee Teng-hui said that he is ready to fight against incumbent KMT Chairman Lien Chan. Huang Chu-wen, a veteran KMT member who has served as a legislator and interior minister, said he will definitely sling the mud back if Lien ever criticizes Lee’s group as a business conglomerate again. Huang is currently helping Lee to round up aspiring political figures who are unlikely to win official nominations by major political parties for the legislative elections in December. As a former member of the KMT’s Central Standing Committee, Huang said that the KMT itself is the largest business conglomerate in Taiwan with its headquarters located in a luxurious high-rise building. Huang said although he is currently president of the National Policy Institution, a think tank founded by chairman Chang Jung-fa of the Evergreen Group, he is considering resigning from the post. He also explained that Chang now has no relation with the institution at all. He confirmed that former KMT Chairman Lee has been actively engaged in organizing the new political group and will personally stump for the over 30 candidates picked by them in the year-end election campaigns. Many of the candidates are expected to be former KMT colleagues of Lee and Huang. Lee is forging an alliance with President Chen Shui-bian placing his group’s support behind Chen to help the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) gain a majority in the Legislative Yuan to achieve political stability. Confidence Huang expressed confidence that Lee’s group will garner 10 percent of the popular votes, saying that the DPP should adopt tactics to find new ballot sources to avoid overlapping of supporters between the two camps. However, both the KMT and the People First Party will be squeezed by the Lee’s group and the DPP, Huang added. Huang has been crisscrossing the island to coordinate the cooperation between the DPP and Lee’s group. He went to Kaohsiung yesterday to meet members of Taiwan South Society, a group backing President Chen and the development of “indigenous” political force and culture. Huang vowed that Lee’s group now has no funds. But it will set up a bank account to accept public donations after the names of its candidates are announced. The group also welcomes contributions from the business community. Fund channels DPP Legislator Chou Po-lun revealed in a press interview that former President Lee and incumbent President Chen are carrying out a two-pronged fund-raising campaign to aid Lee’s candidates. Chou said chairman Liu Tai-ying of China Development Industrial Bank will help Lee solicit donations of NT$1.5 billion from business and industry leaders. Liu will work hand in hand with Huang. At the same time, Makoto Bank chairman Lin Cheng-yi will work with President Chen to raise NT$1 billion. Lin will team up with Deputy Presidential Secretary General Chen Che-nan to achieve the target. When asked by reporters, Chen yesterday denied lawmaker Chou’s remarks and said Chou simply has too much imagination. In a magazine interview, Huang said he had planned to quit politics after the DPP’s Chen won the presidential election last year. But he later decided to follow former President Lee back to the political stage because he noticed that the KMT has gradually deviated from the “indigenous” policy and is slanting toward mainland China. ‘Last battle’ Judging that the KMT policy is not good for Taiwan, Huang decided to leave the party by not renewing his membership. He described the latest political foray to join Lee’s group as “the general’s last battle.” He denied reports that he now works so hard for the Lee-Chen alliance because he has set his sights on the premiership. Huang said he is not seeking to become the next premier or shooting for other positions. “I will return to my own law firm after (the December) election,” he said. In a rare demonstration of solidarity under the challenge from the Lee-Chen alliance, four of the five vice chairmen of the KMT and a total of over 60 legislators lined up in early Wednesday morning at the airport to welcome the return of party Chairman Lien Chan from the U.S. Former Premier Vincent Siew, another KMT vice chairman, is currently traveling abroad. Jason Hu, deputy secretary general of the KMT, acknowledged that Lee and Lien do have different points of view on certain events. While Lee blames the KMT and other political parties for political instability in Taiwan, Lien upholds the view that an opposition party’s responsibility is to faithfully supervise the ruling party as a check and balance. At a reception marking the publishing of his new book recording his years spent at Oxford University, Hu said the KMT is now rising again like a phoenix for a new life instead of going after the death bond as asserted by former KMT Chairman Lee.