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KMT's Ma announces his support for Wu as party's new chairman

Wang says will keep his choice of candidate secret

KMT's Ma announces his support for Wu as party's new chairman

Kuomintang presidential hopeful Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday expressed his unequivocal support for Wu Poh-hsiung, who took over briefly as KMT party chairman after Ma resigned, to run for party chairman in the coming elections.
Ma made the announcement while he was visiting a temple in Taichung County. Ma said that because he does not holding any party or public office at present, he will support Wu as a party member, adding that he knows Wu is the best person to improve the party.
Later in the day, Ma's presidential campaign office issued a press release officially announcing Ma's support of Wu for party chairman. In the statement, Ma said that the by-election for party chairman will play a pivotal role in how the party fares in the coming legislative and 2008 presidential elections. He added that there is no need to pretend to be neutral in the battle and he urged all party comrades to pitch in their support for Wu. Ma praised Wu as having vast experience in important party and government offices, adding that Wu is well-respected for his dependability.
The news might come as a surprise to Wu's only opponent in the coming by-election, KMT Legislator Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱), because she had earlier rejected a media report that said Ma would choose an appropriate time to publicly announce his support for Wu. Hung said that the news must have been fabricated by Wu's desperate aides and that it could hurt both Wu and Ma. Saying the chairmanship should not be a proxy war, Hung said the future chairman must not be partial toward any particular presidential candidate so as to ensure fairness in the presidential primary and party management in the future. Speaking of the race for chairman, she also stressed the importance of a fair election to the party's image.
Meanwhile, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), who has been considered a KMT presidential hopeful despite the fact he has not declared his intentions, said he respected Ma's position to support Wu, but said he still remains neutral on the issue. He added that since the chairman is elected by secret ballot, he will opt to keep secret the candidate he plans to select.
The election for chairman has been scheduled for a vote on April 7.The by-election for chairman has been made necessary by Ma's February 13 resignation as party chairman immediately after he was indicted on corruption charges. Ma allegedly misused a special mayoral allowance set aside for his discretionary use during his two terms as Taipei mayor between 1998 and 2006. Upon resigning, Ma also announced his bid for the 2008 presidential election.