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May 29, 2017

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The real question is who wants to be captain of a sinking ship?

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Legislature Speaker Wang Jin-pyng said yesterday that he supports President Ma Ying-jeou's re-election bid as Kuomintang (KMT) chairman and that there are no doubts with regard to Ma's eligibility.

Wang further rejected rumors that he had been behind KMT Legislator Tsai Cheng-yuan's recent attack against the president.

Lee Te-wei, a member of the KMT's Central Standing Committee, said yesterday that he found Tsai's argument convincing, despite openly swearing his allegiance to Ma.

So far almost every KMT member with political clout has voiced his or her support for Ma, including Wang, Vice President Wu Den-yih, Deputy Legislative Speaker Hung Hsiu-chu, Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin, New Taipei Mayor Eric Chu, Taichung Mayor Jason Hu and others.

Some political commentators have said that Tsai's recent attack on Ma is a sign of an anti-Ma faction within the KMT emerging from the shadows.

There are clearly people in the party who believe Ma should not seek re-election, but the real question is this: who does want to run for chairman?

For now, a plausible answer to that question would be "no one."

Why? Given the administration's dismal poll numbers and the nonstop outbreak of KMT member-related scandals, it wouldn't be far-fetched to say that the ruling party is headed for a spectacular disaster in next year's municipality elections.

Whoever is KMT chairman will most likely be expected to shoulder the responsibility for the party's almost certain defeat.

Why get elected now just to step down later?

There is no doubt that there are members who are eying the chairmanship, but it would make much more sense for them to make their move after the municipality elections. Why not emerge from the ashes of ruin as a Christ-like figure?

One voice that has been notably absent from the recent debate is the Lien family's.

Around three months ago, Tsai said that he would throw his support behind Sean Lien, son of KMT heavyweight Lien Chan, if he chooses to run for Taipei mayor — in spite of credible rumors indicating that KMT headquarters plans on nominating Vice Premier Jiang Yi-hua, allegedly a favorite of Ma's, for the same race.

Furthermore, Lee, the aforementioned Central Standing Committee member, did say that he found Tsai's argument persuasive. Lee is widely known as a close friend of Lien's.

Food for thought?

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