Chu shows no in­ter­est in pres­i­dency as pri­mary looms

The China Post - - LOCAL -

New Taipei Mayor Eric Chu yes­ter­day con­tin­ued to rule him­self out of the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion although his Kuom­intang (KMT) is set to lay down the rules for a pri­mary for which only one party mem­ber has so far de­clared her can­di­dacy.

“I’ve said it many times and don’t have to re­peat the an­swer,” Chu, who dou­bles as KMT chair­man, said when asked if he would run for the pres­i­dency, ac­cord­ing to me­dia re­ports.

Looked up by many KMT mem­bers as the party’s best bet for the pres­i­den­tial race, Chu nev­er­the­less has re­peat­edly promised to see out his four-year may­oral term, which lasts till 2018 and keeps him out of con­tention for the na­tion’s top post next year.

Po­ten­tial can­di­dates have all been very cau­tious and none of them have spelled out their in­ter­est, ex­cept for Leg­isla­tive Deputy Speaker Hung Hsiu- chu, who on Fri­day de­clared her pres­i­den­tial bid.

“We wel­come any­one as long as they are sin­cerely de­voted to serv­ing the coun­try,” said Chu, com­ment­ing on Hung’s bid.

Hung De­clares Bid

The KMT’s Cen­tral Stand­ing Com­mit­tee is sched­uled to meet and dis­cuss mat­ters con­cern­ing the pres­i­den­tial pri­mary Wed­nes­day, and Chu said the rules for the nom­i­na­tion process will be set dur­ing the meet­ing.

Declar­ing her bid, Hung said she will not back off with­out fight­ing it out in the pri­mary, me­dia out­lets in­clud­ing The China Times re­ported.

She said in the past the KMT nom­i­na­tion process usu­ally in­volved in­ter­nal ne­go­ti­a­tions prior to the pri­mary, which served as a mere for­mal­ity to con­firm what had al­ready been determined.

But times have changed, and an “open pri­mary” will be a show- case of the party’s democ­racy.

Asked if she wishes to see Leg­isla­tive Speaker Wang Jin-pyng be­come one of her con­tenders in the KMT pri­mary, Hung said she wel­comes com­pe­ti­tion from any ca­pa­ble ri­vals.

Wang has re­mained tight-lipped about his pos­si­ble can­di­dacy, de­spite wide­spread spec­u­la­tion that he will throw his hat in the ring.

But the deputy speaker com­plained that the KMT has been drag­ging its feet on the nom­ina- tion process, in sharp con­trast to the main op­po­si­tion Demo­cratic Pro­gres­sive Party, which has al­ready de­cided to nom­i­nate Chair­woman Tsai Ing-wen for the pres­i­dency.

The KMT is des­per­ate to keep the pres­i­dency af­ter its hu­mil­i­at­ing de­feat in the lo­cal elec­tions in Novem­ber 2014, af­ter which Chu took over the KMT helm from Pres­i­dent Ma Ying-jeou.

Po­lit­i­cal ob­servers say if Chu runs for the pres­i­dency, he would have to give up the New Taipei may­oral post to which he was nar­rowly elected in Novem­ber. Although giv­ing up the may­or­ship would not be legally re­quired, it would be a nec­es­sary step to show his com­mit­ment to the pres­i­den­tial race.

It means a big gam­ble for both Chu and the rul­ing party: They could lose both the pres­i­dency and the con­trol in New Taipei, the only of the six spe­cial mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties that is still gov­erned by a KMT mayor.

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