Party chairs in war of words over nominee lists for Taiwan's legislative elections

KMT’s legislators-at-large list poses significant threat to national security: DPP Chairman Cho Jung-tai

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DPP Chairman Cho Jung-tai (right) campaigning for a legislative candidate on Oct.12.

DPP Chairman Cho Jung-tai (right) campaigning for a legislative candidate on Oct.12. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Cho Jung-tai (卓榮泰) has entered a war of words on social media with his Kuomintang (KMT) counterpart Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) over the latter’s legislators-at-large list.

“The KMT's party list poses a significant threat and would lead to the destruction of national security,” said Cho via Facebook on Thursday (Nov. 21). He called on the KMT chair to reconsider the party’s nominations that have concerned many since the list was first disclosed last week.

The post drew a retort from the KMT chair in the comments section. Wu said that even though the KMT’s party list cannot satisfy the whole electorate, it was at least decided through a fair and open process that included recommendations by party members, reviews by a committee, and a vote by the party’s executive board.

Wu contended that the KMT had conceived its party list through a more democratic process than the DPP, which he mocked for having decided its nominations with the intervention of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文). The ruling party went through a lengthy leadership meeting last week without reaching a consensus on its party list. It was not until Tsai convened a meeting at her residence on Wednesday evening (Nov. 13) that the DPP finalized the nominations.

The KMT has selected 31 individuals for its legislators-at-large list and predicts the top 16 nominees will be elected.

However, the KMT's list, finalized on Tuesday, has been blasted for including controversial figures, including retired army lieutenant general Wu Sz-huai (吳斯懷), who took the fourth spot. Wu was criticized for having attended an event organized by Beijing in 2016, during which he listened to the Chinese national anthem and a speech delivered by China’s leader Xi Jinping.

Wu has explained that he had not been aware that Xi would take part in the event, which was hosted by Xi himself, and that out of “international etiquette,” he did not leave the venue upon learning of Xi’s presence. Wu, however, did not respond to questions about his discussing how the Chinese People’s Liberation Army could defend itself against U.S. forces on a televised talk show.

Another KMT nomination — retired police officer Sandy Yeh (葉毓蘭), who is second on the party list — also sparked heated debate. In October, Yeh openly supported the Hong Kong police force’s handling of the months-long pro-democracy protests in the semi-autonomous city while describing Hong Kong’s protesters as “rioters.”

Yeh has so far continued to defend her comments, saying she advocates the rule of law and believes in the professional practices of the Hong Kong police, even though she acknowledged the allegations of rape and other violent acts reportedly committed by Hong Kong’s law enforcement personnel and urged probes into these matters.

Yeh emphasized on Tuesday (Nov. 19) that she condemns all forms of violence from all parties. “If it is wrong for the police to resort to violence, why is it right for the demonstrators to engage in violence?” she remarked.