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April 29, 2017

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There are currently six candidates running in the Kuomintang's (KMT) chairmanship election. The degree of the competition is the highest since the party held such elections. However, this year's election also sees the most intense power struggle within the party.

One indicator for observation is what kind of role the former president and chairman Ma Ying-jeou will play in the election. This is also a question I have frequently received.

If you've been watching this election very closely, you will find a very particular phenomenon — that is, there are in fact seven candidates and not six running for the office. Apart from the original six, former President Ma should also be included in the race.

Whether from a positive, negative or neutral angle, Ma has received more coverage than any candidate in the news regarding the election. Furthermore, Ma's media exposure has been kept high with the ruling Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) sparing no effort in going after him. Apparently, both the pan-green and pan-blue find it hard to "get over" him.

Nonetheless, the KMT camps' attention on Ma is partially because people are curious who will get his vote in the end, and whether he will be picking a side or declaring a position during the race.

Though having been adviser to Ma for years, I am no longer one now and cannot speak on his behalf. However, I believe that Ma can proactively express his opinions on issues. On the proactive side, Taiwan is currently in a chaotic situation and the KMT is in a state of ceaseless hardship, and as the party's former chair, it is natural and right for Ma to offer personal advice. On the passive side, timely responses to clarify himself are necessary since there are many criticisms against him from within the party. Nevertheless, Ma should keep himself high above the fray and not pick sides when it comes to the candidates. Allowing the six candidates to debate over their perspectives and letting party members make their choice is the best measure.

Without a doubt though, once Ma expresses his opinion on certain issues, there will be clues for people to trace and guess who is Ma's ideal successor.

Lo Chih-chiang served as the deputy secretary-general of the Presidential Office under former President Ma Ying-jeou

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