By Matthew Strong
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – As the Kuomintang apologized a second time Friday to presidential candidate Hung Hsiu-chu over its plan to replace her, party chairman Eric Liluan Chu said he would make a detailed statement at the upcoming congress.
The KMT approved a plan Wednesday to call a special congress later this month where Hung would be replaced by Chu as the candidate in the January 16 election.
Asked by reporters Friday whether he should apologize to Hung, Chu said that the candidate had a tough time campaigning, but she worked hard and he admired her for it.
If he met her again soon, he would explain everything to her, but in any event, the congress would be the place to present an official statement, Chu said. He added that he had tried to arrange a meeting, but for the time being, she preferred some isolation.
On Friday morning, KMT Secretary-General Lee Shu-chuan again apologized to Hung, saying he would do his best to communicate with her. If she had the time, he would go and apologize to her face to face, Lee said.
The KMT leadership said it needed to replace Hung due to her poor performance in the opinion polls and to her statements about moving closer to China, which strayed from the traditional KMT viewpoint and from public opinion.
Recent surveys put Hung between 20 and 30 percent behind Democratic Progressive Party Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen, with People First Party Chairman James Soong finishing third.
Chu’s takeover as presidential candidate is said to have been motivated by fears that Hung would be unable to help enough legislative candidates win election on the same day. The KMT might lose its legislative majority for the first time ever, reports said.
All KMT and opposition leaders were expected to appear at the Double Ten National Day celebrations Saturday morning, with seats already reserved for Chu, Tsai and Soong in the first row and Hung behind Tsai in the second row, reports said.