Ma Ying-jeou meets KMT A-listers in Taipei, sparking talk of presidential run

Ma hosts economic forum, KMT Chair Wu, Kaohsiung Mayor Han, Foxconn chief Terry Gou, former New Taipei Mayor Eric Chu all in attendance

Former President Ma at his foundation's economic f...

Former President Ma at his foundation's economic f... (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – On April 30, former President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and his foundation hosted an economic forum in Taipei, bringing together a slew of notable Koumintang members in the midst of a tense primary election battle.

As KMT Chairman Wu Den-yih’s(吳敦義) is still trying to organize an official KMT meeting ahead of the party's primary election, former President Ma was able to collect Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜), Terry Gou (郭台銘), Eric Chu (朱立倫), and Wu under one roof at the forum on Taiwan’s economic competitiveness Tuesday.

Kaohsiung Mayor and popular favorite among potential nominees, Han Kuo-yu, jokingly asked at the forum “is this an economic forum or a presidential election debate?”

As uncertainty mounts around the KMT decision on how to conduct its primary process, the theme of the conference held by the Ma Ying-jeou foundation, perhaps tellingly, was “Overcoming Dilemmas – Welcoming Challenges.”

In recent weeks, there have been rumors that the former president may be considering stepping into the ring to challenge the surprisingly popular Kaohsiung Mayor Han, who continues to waffle on whether or not, and in what manner, he may deign to participate in the KMT primary process.

Speculation over Ma’s possible return to presidential politics was heightened in late April when KMT Chairman, Wu Dun-yih, was asked whether all candidates had announced, and he replied, rather cryptically "I’m afraid there are still others.”

Others note that there appears to be some friction between Ma and Han in recent weeks, with Han declaring that Taiwan’s last three presidents, including fellow KMT party member Ma, “crippled” Taiwan's economy.

In response, Ma issued Han an impromptu invitation to the economic forum, where he could share his views, which Han accepted, reports GVM.

There has been criticism of the KMT leadership under Wu Dun-yih in recent months, that he is attempting to subvert the primary process to ensure that Han Kuo-yu will be recruited as the party’s nominee for the 2020 presidential elections, with accusations of secret deals and special arrangements made between members of the party.

The economic forum hosted by the Ma Ying-jeou Foundation on April 30 has certainly fueled more speculation about back-room discussions within the KMT, and it has left many wondering if Taiwan should prepare itself for an announcement from former President Ma in the near future.

Ma Ying-jeou (C) with Terry Gou (CL), Han Kuo-yu (CR), and Eric Chu (R) (CNA photo)