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President clarifies stance on presidential candidate flap

2015/10/08 12:50:42

Taipei, Oct. 8 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said Thursday that he admires Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱), the presidential candidate of the ruling Kuomintang (KMT), but supports the decision of the KMT's Central Standing Committee a day earlier to discuss replacing her.

The party's Central Standing Committee passed a unanimous resolution to hold a special congress, possibly to name a replacement for Hung, who has been trailing the front-runner, Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party, by a wide margin in the support ratings.

"We admire her," Ma said, noting that six months ago, when no one in the party was willing to throw their hats into the ring, Hung stepped up to announce her bid to assume the great responsibility of running for president.

Hung was nominated by the KMT congress July 19.

At a time when the KMT is facing an uphill battle in the presidential and legislative elections scheduled for Jan. 16, 2016, the party needs solidarity more than ever, the president said.

"At this moment, we hope that KMT Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫) can communicate more with Hung. I will support the decision of the party's Central Standing Committee," Ma said.

Chu said a day earlier that during recent meetings with Hung amid persistent calls within the party to have her replaced, he has spoken frankly about the difficulties faced by the party and the fears among the KMT's legislative candidates that they will be more likely to lose their legislative races if Hung remains the party's standard-bearer.

But Hung has so far expressed no intention of stepping aside. She issued a statement Wednesday to say that she regretted the KMT Central Standing Committee's decision and that "it has put the party into another precarious situation."

(By Chen Yi-wei and Lilian Wu)
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