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KMT reiterates support for recall of Keelung mayor

City branch denies rumors that office was behind violent attack on Saturday

KMT reiterates support for recall of Keelung mayor

The opposition Kuomintang yesterday reiterated its support for a signature-gathering campaign aimed at recalling Keelung Mayor Hsu Tsai-li (許財利), despite continued resistance to the idea from the city's party members and dedicated Hsu supporters.
Opposition to the campaign crystallized on Saturday when clashes broke out between pro-reform KMT legislative aides and Hsu supporters outside the Keelung Main Station, where the aides were launching their signature drive to oust the controversial mayor.
"The KMT will not vacillate in supporting the recall campaign against Hsu," KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) stressed yesterday.
He reiterated that even though the recall campaign had in fact met resistance from some KMT members in Keelung City as well as local supporters of Hsu, the KMT would still continue to promote it.
Hsu won a second term as Keelung mayor in December 2005 with the strong backing of Ma, but was expelled from the KMT after being convicted on graft charges in September and given a seven-year prison sentence.
He has remained on as mayor, however, while appealing the verdict.
KMT spokesman Huang Yu-chen backed Ma's statement, stressing that the opposition of some local KMT members would not weaken the KMT's determination to bring down the corrupt mayor.
The party would push the recall campaign so that the city's residents could decide the fate of the Keelung mayor, Huang said yesterday.
Yu Hsiang-hui, the head of the Democratic Progressive Party's Keelung branch, criticized the KMT for taking an ambiguous attitude toward Hsu and therefore failing to protect its legislative aides from violent attack.
But Huang responded that the KMT's headquarters had great regard for the KMT legislative assistants' anti-graft action and was ordering the party's Keelung branch to help them with their signature-gathering drive.
KMT Keelung branch chief Yen Shih-yi denied rumors that the individuals who clashed with the legislative aides on Saturday were mobilized by the party's Keelung branch, but he acknowledged that differences existed on the issue between the KMT's central headquarters and its Keelung branch.
Nevertheless, Yen said, the Keelung office would cooperate with the central headquarter's request and do its best to overcome any obstacle in promoting the recall campaign. Starting today, Keelung residents could add their signature to the recall drive at the KMT's Keelung branch, Yen added.
While the KMT was showing resolve in trying to bring down an administrative head it once supported, Huang urged the DPP to do the same and launch a recall motion against President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) for his and his wife's alleged embezzlement of the presidential state affairs fund.
The spokesman emphasized that the DPP should cooperate with the KMT to promote recall motions against corrupt administrative heads so that the voters could decide their fates.
Chen Ke-wei, one of the KMT legislative aides behind the campaign, said the group planned to invite pan-green DPP supporters to join in the signature drive because the threshold for launching a recall was difficult to achieve.
Under existing law, the signatures of 5,847 eligible voters, or 2 percent of eligible voters in the northern port city are needed for a recall motion to be proposed. If the Central Election Commission approves the motion, then another 38,003 signatures, representing 13 percent of the city's eligible voters, must be collected within 30 days for the commission to hold a recall vote.
If a vote is held, half of the 292,330 voters eligible for the December 2005 pool would have to back the recall motion for it to succeed.
The KMT legislative aides expected that they could collect 43,850 signatures before the Lunar New Year holiday began in mid-February.
But People First Party lawmaker Liu Wen-hsiung (劉文雄), who finished third in the December 2005 Keelung mayoral race, was pessimistic that the campaign would succeed.
He contended that Ma had not expressed enough sincerity in persuading moderate Keelung residents to support the idea.
KMT lawmaker Hsieh Kuo-liang also noted that Keelung residents were generally indifferent toward politics and could worry that the recall issue might hinder the development of the port city.


Updated : 2021-02-28 15:15 GMT+08:00