TAIPEI - Kuomintang (KMT) Chairman Eric Chu stated at party headquarters that he would not run for president in 2016 as the deadline for registering for the party's presidential primaries passed late yesterday afternoon, with none of its presumed heavyweights having registered to enter the race.
Chu made reference to a promise he made last December during his campaign for the KMT chairmanship that he would serve out his term as New Taipei mayor and not run for president in 2016.
In a 13-minute speech during which he used the word "unity" 20 times, Chu urged the party to find a new unity of "the heart" with the ability to insist on its core positions. He also stated that "without me, there are others" and "without me, the party exists."
"The KMT can lose an election, but must not lose the next generation," he said while defending policy stances not always popular with big business or the electorate, including the 40-hour workweek and proposed tax increases aimed at the rich.
Not Running Actually Entails More Censure: Chu
Chu also used his remarks to re-evaluate inner-party and external expectations of him, calling the chairmanship a "a difficult and underappreciated job."
He defended himself, saying that Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng had noted his efforts to maintain party unity, approach suitable candidates for presidential office and other roles of the party chairman. Wang stated on Friday he would not seek the party's nomination for a presidential run.
"Let me say to everyone, if it was due to playing it safe, or fear of defeat, then I would not have campaigned to become chairman of the KMT," he rebuffed those who chided his decision as a shirking of responsibility as party chairman.
In an interview with the local Apple Daily on Friday, President Ma Ying-jeou stated unequivocally that Chu should take the burden of responsibility regarding next year's election, and that the chairman "should not avoid designated responsibilities."
Chu stated that if the future KMT presidential nominee became Taiwan's president, he would relinquish his position as the party's leader. Chu, who has served three months as KMT chairman, also offered to resign if the KMT was defeated in next January's election against Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen. His remarks indicate that his term as party chairman will not exceed one year.
Time to Focus on Those Running: Hung
Deputy Legislative Speaker Hung Hsiu-chu urged the party to back its running candidates no matter if they had supported Wang, Ma or Chu in the past.
She urged those who love the party to "stop spreading rumours and hurting the party." Hung also said that she would head to party headquarters Sunday morning to submit the estimated 50,000-60,000 petition signatures from party members supporting her candidacy.
In addition to Hung, former Health Minister Yaung Chih-liang and Huang Po-shou, a former chief secretary of Dayuan Township in Taoyuan County, remained the only party members who collected registration forms for the KMT's presidential primary.