Ma to call for unity at KMT congress

The China Post news staff

TAIPEI, Taiwan — President Ma Ying-jeou will urge all Kuomintang members to unite in next year’s local elections when the ruling party holds its 19th National Congress in November, sources revealed yesterday. Ma, who will be presiding over the congress in his capacity as the party chairman, will outline the goal and strategy for the elections, with unity being a top priority, the sources were cited by the Central News Agency as saying.

The congress, which kicks off in Taichung on Nov. 10, will be the KMT’s biggest event ahead of the elections, which will re-elect all local government heads and parliamentarians.

Although not too many KMT figures have openly expressed interest in running, the KMT has been silently looking for candidates among its ranks, the sources said. The nomination process will follow the principles of democracy, and all KMT members are welcome to the competition, the sources added. “Having the best candidates is key to winning the elections,” the sources were cited as saying. The KMT originally planned to hold the congress in Taipei last month, but an open rift between Ma and Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng, and threats of protests by activists, prompted it to postpone and relocate it. The sources said the changes were made out of public safety concerns. According to the agenda for the congress, Ma will be sworn in for another term as KMT chairman.

Premier Jiang Yi-huah and Wang will present reports on administrative and legislative maters, respectively. Wang and Ma will have been seen having interactions with each other in public for the second time since falling out in September. They acted friendly to each other during the National Day ceremony on Oct. 10. So far, 13 proposals have been submitted for the congress to discuss, the sources said, adding only one of them is politically sensitive, asking that the party congress be held annually. Currently it is held every two years.

Most of the other proposals are about local issues, and there are also issues concerning labor and health insurance policies, the sources said.