KMT leadership race heats up as candidates submit endorsements

By James Lo, The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — The Kuomintang (KMT) on Monday commenced the process of validating the eligibility of chairperson candidates. Currently, KMT bylaw states that all party chairperson candidates must collect the signatures of three percent of the total number of party members (as of May 1) in order to become eligible. The KMT started to accept endorsement signatures from candidates yesterday, with former legislator Pan Wei-kang (潘維剛) being the first of the six candidates to submit her proof of eligibility.

Pan was also the last person to announce her candidacy for the opposition party’s leadership. Pan turned in approximately 100,000 endorsements yesterday — she will need around 13,000 unrepeated and verified signatures to be approved as a candidate according to the current tally of KMT members.

Following her submission, Pan held a press conference to say that her platform’s focus would be on helping the KMT become the voice of the public once more. She went on to criticize the current Democratic Progressive Party administration, blaming policies such as the “one fixed, one flexible” day off scheme, pension reform and the stormy nature of cross-strait relations for the current levels of dissatisfaction seen around the country. Pan said that she would continue to refuse to resort to using smear tactics against her fellow KMT members, insisting that her unconventional take on electoral politics would prevail. Outside Interference Meanwhile, Pan’s opponent, former Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌), said during a public event on Sunday that he would provide an NT$200,000 reward to those who could prove and report evidence of outside interference in the election. Hau’s comment was made amid ongoing speculation about an investigation into the existence of new KMT members with suspicious backgrounds. It is rumored that such members have recently entered the party in order to vote for a specific candidate. Hau’s reward, along with chairperson candidate Steve Chan’s (詹啟賢) comments on electoral bribery, prompted fellow candidate and former Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) — who was the target of Chan’s comments — to come forward and dismiss the comments and actions of his fellow candidates. Wu went as far to say that to prove his innocence, and as a show of his character, he would leave politics completely if there were any evidence to suggest that he was involved in corruption. In response, Hau said that he was not targeting Wu, and that he was merely providing a reward to ensure that the KMT chairperson election was conducted fairly.