KMT to expel 11 members, won’t pursue Lee’s ouster

The China Post staff

The Kuomintang’s disciplinary committee yesterday decided to expel 11 members who have joined the Taiwan Solidarity Union, but it did not pursue the ouster of former Chairman Lee Teng-hui, who is considered the spiritual leader of the new party. “For the moment, we’ve decided not to take up Lee’s case,” said committee head Chen Kang-chin. The committee was discussing the fate of 12 KMT members who decided to run as TSU candidates in the year-end legislative elections, but it spared one of them. Chen said Taoyuan County Council Vice Speaker Huang Chin-teh, had wanted to run as an either an independent or a KMT candidate, but because of the “external factors” he had no choice but to join the TSU.

Chen did not specify the “external factors,” but said Huang’s case would be shelved in the meantime.

Lee’s case was not on the agenda of the committee meeting yesterday, although panel members gave it much discussion. Chen said the panel thought that it was not the right time to deal with Lee, having considered the balance between maintaining discipline and growth of the party. When asked when the review of the Lee case would be scheduled, Chen said “it depends on the development of the situation in the future.”

Lee made a high-profile appearance at the TSU inauguration ceremony Sunday, prompting criticism that he was stumping for the new party. But he has been tactful in avoiding any direct and official links with the new party, formed by his supporters who think the KMT have scrapped Lee’s legacy and have become too close to its rival, mainland China.

The TSU hopes to siphon away votes from the KMT in the December legislative elections.

After the vote, the new party reportedly will seek to form a majority alliance in the Legislature with President Chen Shui-bian’s small Democratic Progressive Party.

The KMT Central Standing Committee will decide whether to oust the 11 members.

Those on the expulsion list are not heavyweights, and critics of the TSU say the party’s candidates will be easy to beat.

But backers of the new party argue that the candidates will be formidable because they are popular in their local districts.

Responding to the expulsion, one of the 11 members, Lo Chih-ming, stressed that he had already renounced his KMT membership on March 10. Lo, who is running in Kaohsiung City, said the KMT disciplinary committee apparently wanted to deal a blow on his campaign by listing him in the expulsion list.

He said he quit the party because of its “black gold” links, and announced his independent bid in June. He said he joined the TSU banner after meeting with Lee.