Former Taiwan president rumored to be eyeing KMT chairmanship

Senior member of KMT says former President Ma Ying-jeou preparing bid for party chair

Former President Ma Ying-jeou

Former President Ma Ying-jeou (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — According to a senior member of the Kuomintang Party (KMT), former President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is eyeing the position of party chair — which he last held between 2009 to 2014.

Despite stepping down as the head of state in 2016, Ma has retained his influence over the party, particularly its overall position on cross-strait affairs. Former KMT legislator Alex Tsai (蔡正元) said during a radio interview on Friday (Sept. 25) that Ma will surely enter next year's race for the KMT chair, though the former president does not seem to intend to run for president again.

Ma’s office later described Tsai’s scoop as “unfathomable” and declined to comment further on it.

During the interview, Tsai stressed that he had not made the claim up. He said former KMT Chair Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), who served as vice president in the Ma administration, has been circulating the news for some time.

Wu resigned as party chair after the KMT suffered bruising losses in January’s presidential and legislative elections. Wu’s successor Johnny Chiang (江啟臣), who in June failed to prevent then-Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) from being recalled, is now struggling to reform a party that is unable to gain support from young voters and has long been criticized by rivals for pursuing closer ties with China.

Chiang’s tenure will come to a close at the end of next August, and as an incumbent legislator, he is likely to seek re-election. However, rumors have spread that Han, who now holds no government or party position, and former New Taipei Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) may also enter the race.