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September 20, 2017

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KMT's principles may not survive until year-end elections

The ruling Kuomintang's (KMT) latest sacking of its scandal-ridden candidate in the Keelung mayoral race has shown nothing but the party's desperation to win the year-end elections.

The removal of the hopeful, Huang Ching-tai, may be less about saving its campaign in Keelung than stabilizing the ones in Taipei and New Taipei City.

The KMT has been strategically linking the elections in the northern port city with those in the two special municipalities, forming one big campaign for the Greater Taipei area.

It means a weak link in any of the three cities could undermine the other two. And that's the argument that the KMT produced when sacking Huang on Thursday, reasoning that his dwindling support — and worst of all his bad image — was jeopardizing its campaigns in the other two cities.

The KMT must have felt an extra need to remove Huang because its candidate in Taipei, Sean Lien, has been fighting an uphill battle against independent rival Ko Wen-je, who has the backing of the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

But in fact it is difficult to say which one of the pair — Huang and Lien — was the weaker link in the KMT's Greater Taipei campaign.

Huang, who has vowed to stay on by running an independent bid, has claimed that he was the only one with a chance of winning among all three KMT hopefuls in the Greater Taipei area.

But his claims have failed to convince the party, which apparently has decided that the races in Taipei and New Taipei City are more important than the one in Keelung. Indeed, victory in the two special municipalities — one being the capital city and the other being the biggest city in Taiwan — will be more important than victory anywhere else.

And dropping Huang seems a pure strategic move without the KMT passing judgment on his alleged involvement in corruption.

The KMT has not imposed any disciplinary actions (apart from revoking his nomination for Keelung, which says it is not a form of punishment) on Huang, or threatened to launch an internal probe into his alleged wrongdoings.

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