by Matthew Strong
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Kuomintang presidential candidate Hung Hsiu-chu’s ideas on China stray from the mainstream and her poll performance is poor, party chairman Eric Liluan Chu said at the start of a crucial meeting which might set the wheels in motion to replace Hung.
Wednesday afternoon’s Central Standing Committee meeting is widely expected to approve a petition already signed by 27 of its 39 members to replace Hung with Chu. A party congress will be needed in order to approve the change, and it could be scheduled as early as October 17, reports said.
In a short address before the CSC meeting, Chu mentioned how Hung’s China policies, which included “One China, the Same Interpretation” and an evolution toward eventual unification, were different from what the KMT had always strived for and had also strayed away from mainstream public opinion in Taiwan. Her performance in opinion polls was also less than favorable as she had failed to obtain majority support from the public, Chu said.
The party leader said that members should speak the truth and not hold back about the problems they faced, because that was the only way in which problems could be solved. He said that this approach could lead to solidarity and to party unity.
Everybody should put the party ahead of the self, Chu said, rejecting a hint by Hung at a news conference Tuesday that the KMT was working on an exchange of favors to persuade her to withdraw from the race.
Wednesday’s comments by Chu and the CSC meeting are the latest phase in an escalating test of wills. At her news conference Tuesday afternoon, Hung insisted she would not accept any backroom deals but run to the bitter end because she had been nominated in the legal party process. Her decision for the special news conference followed comments by Chu earlier in the day saying he would not evade his responsibility. His words were widely interpreted as showing his willingness to accept the nomination.
The movement to replace Hung has been mostly motivated by her poor opinion poll results. She has been lagging 20 to 30 percent behind Democratic Progressive Party Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen in most recent opinion polls, even though People First Party Chairman James Soong has fallen even further behind.
Her pronounced statements in favor of a further move toward unification have also caused a fall in support, with prominent KMT figures in Southern Taiwan finding it hard to keep campaigning for her, reports said.