by Matthew Strong
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Kuomintang Chairman Eric Liluan Chu apologized to Legislative Vice Speaker Hung Hsiu-chu, the presidential candidate he was expected to replace at the special congress Saturday, before launching into a sharp attack against the opposition.
With only three months left to the January 16 presidential and legislative elections, poor opinion poll ratings forced the ruling party to change its candidate in order to prevent a historic defeat, observers said.
In his speech to the congress, Chu emphasized the future of the country was at stake in the election.
He began with an admission that the mood at the KMT was so pessimistic the party was left with no choices but to change its candidate. The feedback from legislative candidates in the field was that the KMT needed to adapt its steps and to go for a new beginning, Chu said.
He warned his audience of the danger of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party gaining complete control over Taiwan’s political system. It could become the only party in power, controlling 13 cities and counties as well as the central government beginning next year if it won the January election, Chu said.
Would there still be democracy in Taiwan when the DPP, which he described as the party of protest, gained power on so many levels of the government, he wondered.
Chu also defended the KMT’s official cross-straits policies, especially the “1992 Consensus” of “One China, Each Its Own Interpretation,” a formula which has been rejected as non-existent by the DPP and by former President Lee Teng-hui.
Chu said the KMT should emphasize its basic values during the three months remaining of the campaign, because those were the common values of the people of Taiwan and of the Republic of China.
When Chu was making his speech, Hung had already left the assembly hall of the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall where the congress took place.
DPP presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen, who has been leading all opinion polls for months, was touring New Taipei City Saturday. Chu is mayor there, and has come under fire for apparently remaining in his position while running for president. If he does resign as mayor after all, a new mayoral election will have to take place.