Taiwan KMT's Hung defies calls to step aside

Kuomintang (KMT) presidential candidate Hung Hsiu-chu.
PHOTO: AFP

TAIPEI, Taiwan - Kuomintang (KMT) presidential candidate Hung Hsiu-chu yesterday defied growing pressure to step aside ahead of a key party meeting to determine the fate of her candidacy, vowing to continue her bid even if it were to cause her "death on the battlefield."

"Please rest assured, I insist on my original intention and promise to run for president, and I will not accept any private exchange of conditions (to drop out of the race) or bow my head to any unreasonable power," she stated in a press conference. Hung delayed a previous appointment at the Legislative Yuan to make the brief announcement, generating high media attention concerning her next moves and the manoeuvring of party members who want her replaced.

A motion brought before the party's Central Standing Committee (CSC) this afternoon will likely bring forth an extraordinary party congress that seeks to replace her with KMT Chairman Eric Chu.

Hung termed growing calls from within the KMT to replace her as rumours.

"To this day I am unwilling to believe that the rumours calling for 'replacing Hung' are real," she said.

On Monday, local media revealed that Chu had asked Hung to relinquish her role as presidential nominee up to three times in September. A high-level party official also revealed that Chu was "willing to take the burden of running" should Hung step aside.

Although labeling the swirling moves in the leadership to replace her as rumour, Hung had strong words for her detractors, saying that her ouster would mean losing the "last bit of expectation that the public has of our party" and that the party's past practices had belied the public's trust.

"What the people despise is the KMT's lack of transparency, its secrecy and its deal making," she said.

In a statement foreboding a protracted conflict with party central, Hung reminded her opponents that the party must move "in accordance with the law, not in accordance to an individual" and that any decisions made by the KMT should abide by the law and societal expectations.

Answering whether she would take legal action against the party if her candidacy is nullified, Hung answered she would "think about it."

Kuomintang HQ (De) mobilizes Resources

Meanwhile, according to local party branches, KMT headquarters has been soliciting opinions on an agenda for the extraordinary party congress, including "passing a motion to approve Chairman Chu as the party's presidential candidate."

In addition to readying for the possibility to replace Hung, advisors to the candidate say that the party has reallocated Hung's campaign staff including those in the policy development, youth and international affairs departments. Party officials later denied that orders were given to vacate Hung's campaign office.

A rally planned for Hung in Taoyuan, organised by headquarters for Thursday, has also been called off.

Will Take Full Responsibility: Chu

Chu stated yesterday that he was "duty bound" as party chairman and would "bear the burden of full responsibility" while confirming that he had been in dialogue with Hung recently. Responding to questions on if he would resign as New Taipei mayor to take on the presidential bid, Chu replied he would not answer "hypothetical questions."

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