China policy, age factor to weigh in KMT chairman race

TAIPEI (The China Post/ANN) — The ability to appeal to young supporters and properly adjust the party’s stance on cross-strait relations are viewed as key factors to select a new chairman for the opposition Kuomintang (KMT).

Peng Ching-peng (彭錦鵬), a political science professor at National Taiwan University (NTU), said on Monday that the only way for the main opposition party to get back in the game is to elect a new chairman under 50 years old.

This perception comes after President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) landslide win backed by an unprecedented wave of supporters under 40 years old.

The KMT has to rejuvenate, Peng said, adding that a younger chairman is key to reinstall communication with the younger generation and push for true reforms.

At the moment, NTU professor Chang Yia-chung (張亞中) is the only candidate in the race. Chang, who is a staunch supporter of Taiwan’s unification with China, lost to Kaohsiung City Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) in the party’s primary for the presidential ticket.

In a Facebook post, Chang said that the fundamental difference between the KMT and the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is that the former “can create peace for both sides of the Taiwan Strait,” while DPP’s “separatism” will bring war.

Chang Yia-chung speaks at a radio interview on Jan. 14, 2020. (CNA)
Chang Yia-chung speaks at a radio interview on Jan. 14, 2020. (CNA)

Potential candidates call for party reform

Former New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫), legislator Chiang Chi-chen (江啟臣), and ㄐformer Vice Chairman Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) are highly-anticipated candidates to enter the race.

Swiftly after former Chairman Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) resigned, Hau wrote in a Facebook post that the party requires someone “selfless” who “has no personal political plans” as chairman.

This person will devote himself/herself entirely to “assist KMT to survive this unprecedented crisis,” and to “find and support the one person that can reform KMT,” he wrote.

On the other hand, KMT’s emerging star and legislator Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安) has reportedly said that he will not run for the chairmanship. He added that whoever becomes the new party leader, he or she must “make sure that party policies are in line with public opinion.”