Hung announces bid to lead KMT after ‘unprecedented’ election defeat

By Yuan-Ming Chiao, The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Deputy Legislative Speaker Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) vowed to lay the first brick and rebuild the political fortunes of the freshly defeated Kuomintang, as she announced on Wednesday that she would seek to become the party’s chairwoman.

“The KMT’s unprecedented defeat was not due to public ruthlessness, but because the party has lost the people’s hearts. This was not due to some overnight fluke, but a party that has long existed in paralysis,” Hung told reporters outside of her office in the Legislative Yuan. Hung was the party’s initial presidential candidate for the 2016 election, but was replaced in October 2015 by then-party Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫), a controversial move that some have attributed to further demoralizing voters who might have supported the party initially. Before the party formally revoked her candidacy, Hung stated defiantly that “the party can abandon me, but I won’t abandon it.” Alluding to her strained relationship with Chu following her ouster, Hung said that the party has veered toward a “precipice” and that the party leadership election would be a pivotal step toward regrouping. Hung said that were she elected to lead the party, she would move to relocate the party’s core values and push for reforms in order to meet national challenges and institute new ways to attract a younger generation of party members. On the controversies surrounding the party’s assets, which date back to the Japanese surrender of the island in 1945, Hung said that she herself was curious about the extent of the assets and invited “everybody” to examine the records. She recommended that the party handle the issue in a publicly transparent manner. Calls for party reforms have brewed following the KMT’s defeat, although calls for those reforms also came from Hung when she initially became presidential candidate in the summer of 2015. Party Leadership Election Pushed Back Earlier in the day, Acting KMT Chairwoman Huang Min-hui addressed the party’s Central Standing Committee (CSC), thanking the voters of Taiwan for giving the party a decisive message on how far it had moved away from the public. Aside from pointing out the party’s next steps for choosing its next leader, Huang indicated that it must handle the issue of party assets as a first step toward real reform. Afterward, the CSC publicized the party’s plans for the leadership election process, pushing the election date back one month to March 26. The prolonged campaign period would allow for more party members to register as candidates, and include publicized policy debates, a key demand from younger party members. The CSC also announced a 20-percent decrease in the required security deposit candidates are required to submit, to an updated amount of NT$1.6 million (approximately US$47,000).

Registration forms for candidates will be made available on Jan. 26 and 27.