Ma elected KMT chairman

President Ma Ying-jeou has become the chairman of the Kuomintang (KMT, the Nationalist Party) for the next four years. After the uncontested July 26th election, Ma reiterated his determination to reform the ruling party and to work more closely with the Legislative Yuan to increase government efficiency.

Ma won with 285,354 votes out of 308,462 votes cast. The KMT has a registered membership of 534,739, which indicated a 58 percent turnout. This is Ma’s second term as KMT chairman, his first time was in 2005 when the KMT was the opposition party. In 2007, after being indicted for misappropriating expenses as Taipei’s mayor, Ma stepped down and was succeeded by Wu Poh-hsiung. Ma was later acquitted of the charges.

Ma’s bid drew criticism from the opposition parties since one of his presidential campaign promises was that he would not seek to double as the KMT chairman. However, he justified his bid for the chairmanship by citing the need for further government streamlining in the face of the global financial slowdown.

With Ma now serving as the president and KMT chairman, the Central News Agency reasoned he now has the clout to take full responsibility for Taiwan’s future – to bring peace to the Taiwan Strait and to transform Taiwan into a fully developed country ready to meet global challenges.

The KMT was founded in 1912 by Dr. Sun Yat-sen shortly after the revolution to overthrow China’s Ching Dynasty. The party can trace its roots to the Revive China Society, which was founded in 1895 in Hawaii. The KMT ruled China from 1912 until Chiang Kai-shek retreated to Taiwan in 1949 after the Chinese Civil War.

Taiwan’s opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen sent her congratulations to Ma on his appointment, but expressed concern over Taiwan’s democracy and the relations across the Taiwan Strait. Hu Jintao, the Chinese Communist Party general secretary, also sent his congratulations to Ma. Trying to allay fears, the Taipei Times reported that Ma said he is in no hurry to meet Hu, saying that the chairman need not attend every meeting between the parties. Even so, the United Daily News commented that as KMT chairman, Ma faces a difficult task in leading his party into December’s elections for magistrates and mayors.

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