Taipei, Aug. 14 (CNA) The opposition Kuomintang (KMT) on Wednesday revoked the party membership of a veteran KMT member for criticizing KMT presidential candidate Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) as not fit to be Taiwan's president because he was a big drinker and womanizer.
The KMT Central Standing Committee announced on Wednesday afternoon its unanimous decision to revoke the membership of Chen Hung-chang (陳宏昌), who was a four-term KMT lawmaker from 1992 to 2002.
KMT Central Standing Committee member Yao Chiang-ling (姚江臨), who supported the decision, said the party needed to act against Chen and not tolerate his slander of Han with the presidential and legislative elections just five months away.
The decision was made after many KMT supporters expressed anger over Chen's comments Sunday, especially as he expressed his support for President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), who is seeking re-election.
Chen backed Tsai during her visit Sunday to a New Taipei temple where Chen serves as the head of the temple's management committee.
The former KMT lawmaker said he heard his son say the Kaohsiung mayor was "unworthy" to be the country's next leader because he "plays mahjong, drinks and womanizes," and Chen agreed.
The KMT is also considering disciplinary measures against former Kaohsiung County Magistrate Yang Chiu-hsing (楊秋興), who on Monday echoed Chen's criticism of the Kaohsiung mayor.
In his defense, Chen later said he was referring to Han's behavior when he was a KMT lawmaker from 1993 to 2002, arguing that Han himself has admitted that he was not a hardworking and responsible lawmaker.
"Almost all of Han's former colleagues in the Legislature can testify to that," Chen told CNA.
He was surprised to see that the KMT decided so quickly to revoke his membership, which he has held for more than 40 years, just because he was "telling the truth."
Responding to Chen's accusation, Han said he has repeatedly admitted to not doing his job well as a legislator, but he also said he is not the same person he was 20 years ago.
Han's camp, meanwhile, has threatened to sue Chen for libel unless he apologizes to Han over his remarks.
Though he was a longtime KMT member, Chen had drifted away from the party for many years. He is close to the pan-green camp led by the DPP and considered a member of Lee Teng-hui's (李登輝) faction when Lee was KMT chairman and president of Taiwan.
The KMT's decision came at a time when the party is trying to unite its members ahead of the Jan. 11, 2020 presidential election amid an internal split, with a number of its leading figures refusing to endorse Han's presidential bid.
Terry Gou (郭台銘), founder of Taiwanese manufacturing giant Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., who was beaten in the KMT presidential primary last month by Han, is reportedly going to meet with Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), possibly to discuss a third party candidacy.
Former Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), meanwhile, pulled out of the KMT presidential primary in June on the grounds that the party's primary process favored some KMT candidates over others, but he has said he would still run for president.