KMT chairmanship vacated as Chu bows out

By Yuan-Ming Chiao, The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — It was a day of continued apologies for Eric Chu (朱立倫) who returned to his post as mayor of New Taipei and later officially resigned as chairman of the Kuomintang (KMT). Arriving at the City Hall Monday morning after taking temporary leave last October to tend to his presidential run, Chu stated that if his absence had caused delays in the governance of city affairs, he owed residents an apology. Chu was asked by reporters to account for the ruling party’s dismal performance in New Taipei, the nation’s largest city and only remaining major city administered by the for-now ruling party. The KMT lost an additional 250,000 votes in Saturday’s national election in comparison to its performance in New Taipei City in the 2014 local elections. “I will certainly reflect on this,” Chu replied, adding that he would focus on the general electoral conditions and other factors that accounted for the party’s dismal performance. As with remarks he made immediately after the election and Sunday, Chu emphasized again that he must shoulder the most blame. Hours later, Chu arrived at party headquarters to formally resign in front of the Central Standing Committee. He named party Vice Chairwoman Huang Min-hui (黃敏惠) as acting leader. The election for a new party leader will take place after the Lunar New Year, with applications for the position becoming available as early as Friday. The new party leader would be sworn in by early March, according to the CSC. “As party chairman I have let everybody down,” a visibly distraught Chu stated while reading a prepared statement. “I will never forget that the KMT lost the power to govern under my chairmanship,” he continued.

He said that the next party leader must propose major reforms that reflect support from the public and party members alike, arguing that the improvement of the party would “make Taiwan a better place.”

After thanking CSC members and party staff individually, Chu descended the escalator flanked by party officials, exiting the building surrounded by a throng of television camera crews before his car drove him away. Ten members of the CSC headed to the Presidential Office after Chu resigned in order to meet with Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) to convince him to consider running for party chairman. Wu and the CSC members met for approximately one hour. Later, CSC member Yao Chiang-lin (姚江臨) stated that the party was in a quandary and needed unity. On the matter of “generational transfer” and bringing young blood into party ranks, Yao said that the party “dared” to use younger talent and needed someone with experience to lead the party. Yao said that the vice president, who has severed as party secretary general and has competed in elections, would be a suitable choice. Wu, 67, said he would consider running, but indicated that he was concerned that he would be unable to adequately fulfill the role.