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September 21, 2017

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President takes over as KMT chair, says will punish mavericks

President Ma Ying-jeou, who took the helm of the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) yesterday, promised to settle disputes over the party's huge assets and to come down hard on mavericks undermining its year-end election campaign.

Ma, now in control of both the ruling party and the government, said a "final solution" will be worked out by the end of this year to dispose of the KMT business arm, the Central Investment Holding Company.

Except for portions allocated for workers' severance payments and for party operation funds, all income from the sale of the firm will go to charity, Ma said.

The party will stop running profit-seeking businesses, and all future election campaigns will be funded by donations, the new KMT chairman promised.

Addressing the party's National Congress, Ma called for unity and expressed regret over the defiance by some mavericks of a party ban on their running in the upcoming local government elections.

He said these mavericks must be punished to maintain party discipline that is essential to keeping the KMT united.

Ma also vowed to run a clean campaign without buying votes.

Ma was elected KMT chairman earlier this year, and was sworn in yesterday at the party congress.

It is the second time he has headed the party. But it is the first time that he is in control of both the government and the ruling party.

But unlike his predecessors Chiang Kai-shek and Chiang Ching-kuo, Ma is seen to be lacking a lot of the authority and capability to keep firm control of the party, which is still often seen as the core of country's power.

Democratic changes in Taiwan over the past two decades have also prevented a repeat of the authoritarian rules under the two Chiangs.

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