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Former Miaoli magistrate quits KMT to support Terry Gou for president

08/22/2023 10:23 PM
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Former Miaoli County Magistrate Hsu Yao-chang. Photo courtesy of private contributor Aug. 22, 2023
Former Miaoli County Magistrate Hsu Yao-chang. Photo courtesy of private contributor Aug. 22, 2023

Taipei, Aug. 22 (CNA) Former Miaoli County Magistrate Hsu Yao-chang (徐耀昌) said Tuesday he was leaving the Kuomintang (KMT), the third senior KMT politician since May to stump for Terry Gou (郭台銘), a potential presidential contender.

Hsu's decision came two days before the deadline set by the KMT for him to explain why he urged supporters not to vote for the party in the 2024 presidential election at a recent Gou rally.

Prior to Hsu, KMT Nantou County Council Speaker Ho Shang-feng (何勝豐) and Changhua County Council Speaker Hsieh Dien-lin (謝典林) voiced support for Gou, who has yet to declare his candidacy, in May and July respectively.

Via a social media post, Hsu criticized the KMT for its presidential candidate pick, referring to New Taipei Mayor Hou Yu-ih (侯友宜) who was drafted by the party on May 17 when Gou, founder of major Apple supplier Foxconn, expressed an interest in seeking the party's nomination, despite not being a party member.

The KMT nominated someone whom its party members disapproved of, who watched from the sidelines without campaigning for Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) of the KMT in the 2020 presidential election, and who failed to support the KMT position in previous referendums, Hsu said via the post.

In the post, Hsu, who lost in a poll-based KMT primary in May to run in the legislative election, to be held in tandem with the presidential election in January, also said that the party has been corrupted by "backdoor politics" and "failed to resonate with the general public."

Approached by reporters for a comment Tuesday, Hou said he found it "regrettable" that Hsu has decided to withdraw from the party but "respects his decision."

Hsu's contributions to Miaoli when he was magistrate were "highly recognized," said Hou, adding that he still hopes Hsu will stick with the KMT in the campaign.

The 68-year-old Hsu's departure from the KMT is the latest sign of an emerging independent force in the former KMT stronghold, mainly as a result of past election grudges, said Miaoli County Councilor Tseng Wen-hsueh (曾玟學) of the KMT.

Miaoli's independents are led by Magistrate Chung Tung-chin (鍾東錦), who was disqualified as a candidate by the KMT because of his criminal record but quit the party and mounted a successful campaign as an independent in December last year, Tseng said.

Hsu entered politics as a township chief representing the KMT in 1994 and switched to the People First Party in 2001 to serve three terms at the Legislature before returning to the KMT in 2012 to win reelection. He was elected magistrate in 2014 and reelected for another four-year term.

At Gou's rally on Aug. 10, Hsu and Chung stood side by side with Gou to support his initiative that presidential candidates of the opposition parties should form an alliance to defeat the DPP in the upcoming presidential election.

In his remarks at the rally, Hsu called for supporters to "vote against not only the DPP but also the KMT" in January's elections as a way to force the two parties to engage in "self-reflection."

Hsu first walked back his remarks, saying that he "misspoke" at the rally, when the KMT's Disciplinary Committee demanded on Aug. 14 that he present an explanation of his position by Aug. 24 for the committee to review, but instead he decided to leave the party.

(By Kuan Jui-ping, Wang Cheng-chung and Shih Hsiu-chuan)


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