Taiwanese presidential candidate Hung Hsiu-chu has denied rumors that she demanded NT $500 million (US $15.3 million) from Kuomintang (KMT) party headquarters in exchange for her withdrawal as the KMT’s candidate for Taiwan’s upcoming presidential elections, the Taipei Times reports.
Hung Hsiu-chu brought up the rumor at a KMT rally on October 13th, claiming that she did so because of “people who keep spreading similar rumors about tradeoffs,” a response seemingly aimed at allegations made by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chen Ting-fei that the KMT may have violated Taiwan’s Presidential and Vice-Presidential Election and Recall Act by offering “huge financial incentives.”
Legislator Chen has claimed that KMT Party Chairman Eric Chu and Secretary-General Lee Shu-chuan have offered money, a post-election government job, and possibly other incentives to secure Hung’s withdrawal.
These accusations come days before an extempore party congress scheduled for October 17th that is aimed at replacing Hung with Eric Chu.
Chen’s complaint has been lodged with Taiwan’s Supreme Prosecutor Office, and was followed by a similar accusation a day later by Taiwan Solidarity Union Legislator Chou Ni-an. Prosecutor General Yen Da-ho has authorized the Special Investigation Division to investigate the case.
In response to these allegations, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng denied them as being “impossible,” and told reporters that he had never heard of the rumor until journalists had brought it up in the first place. Similarly, Chinese-language United Evening News quoted an anonymous KMT official denying the rumor, claiming that the KMT would never engage in such an action, and was at a loss as how to explain “how such a rumor spread.”
Inner-party conflict, a sinking ship?
With approval ratings at an all-time low and a presidential candidate lagging behind by more than 20 points in polls, the KMT Central Standing Committee voted 28 to 39 on October 7th to hold an extempore party congress to consider replacing Hung Hsiu-chu with Eric Chu instead.
The motion states: “If party representatives find it difficult to campaign for and boost the momentum of the party’s candidates, the KMT leadership is urged – for the sake of salvaging the party and its legislative elections prospects – to change its current presidential candidate and let Chairman Chu shoulder the responsibility.”
Hung has expressed outrage in response, claiming the move to be unfair, unjust, and in violation of proper procedure.
She has called for a debate to clarify her cross-straits policy, “one China, same interpretation,” and will be present at Saturday’s party congress to speak on her behalf.
Unlike President Ma Ying-jeou’s “one China, different interpretations,” Hung’s policy defines the conflict between the China and Taiwan as “overlapping sovereignty claims by two constitutional governments in two separate jurisdictions,” or simply that there are two governments present in one China.
This implies that Taiwan is in fact a part of China, a pill that many Taiwanese both in and outside the KMT find hard to swallow. Polls seem to indicate that Taiwanese view Taiwan as a sovereign state, even if only in practice.
With Hung toting a China policy distasteful to both many Taiwanese and approval ratings far below that of her rival, many KMT legislative candidates fear her performance will only impair their own chances for elections, and have been vocal in calling for her removal.
Chariman Eric Chu has issued an apology to the party and to Hung for the faltering election campaign, and claimed responsibility for any problems that have setback the KMT’s standing. Chu has characterized the decision to hold Saturday’s congress as a hard choice, albeit one that was necessary.
Perhaps if there is one place both Beijing and the KMT can find solace in, it is DPP candidate Tsai Ing-Wen’s apparent willingness to eschew a moderate stance on cross-straits relations during her campaign.
by Stanley Yu