KMT comes to Ma re-election 'solution'
By Adam Tyrsett Kuo, The China PostTAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Kuomintang (KMT) resolved yesterday that it would be legitimate for President Ma Ying-jeou to run for another term as KMT chairman.
January 24, 2013, 12:03 am TWN
In 2005, Ma became the fourth chairman of the KMT. Less than two years later, he stepped down voluntarily over graft charges which he was later cleared of. In 2009, Ma ran again for chairman and won. The ruling party is slated to hold another election this year.
According to the KMT's resolution, since Ma served less than half of his term, from Aug. 19, 2005 to Feb. 13, 2007, the period does not count as one actual term, and that he is qualified to run again.
Questions regarding Ma's eligibility have mainly been focused on whether his tenure from 2005 to 2007 should count as one term. If it does, as KMT Legislator Tsai Cheng-yuan argued, Ma has already served two consecutive terms and is barred from running again.
The aforementioned resolution was passed yesterday, during the party's weekly Central Standing Committee meeting, after former Legislator Huang Chao-shun put forth the motion.
KMT Secretary-General Tseng Yung-chuan said that according to party regulations, the Central Standing Committee has the right to interpret the charter, and therefore resolve the chairmanship issue, given that the National Congress and the Central Committee are not in session.
Tsai recently cited Article 20 of the Civil Associations Act, which stipulates that a “chairperson of (a civil association) may be reappointed only once,” arguing that Ma is therefore not eligible for re-election.
The Ministry of Interior (MOI), however, said that the relevant regulation would be Article 49 of the same act, which stipulates that “a political association shall ... prescribe the positions, quota, tenure, election, and recall of personnel ... in its constitution.”
According to the MOI's statement, the KMT retains the right to define its electoral process via its charter — the authority of which, as Tseng pointed out, lies with its Central Standing Committee, since the National Congress and the Central Committee are not in session.
Citing a court ruling on Kang Shih-ju's re-election as Zhunan mayor, Tseng further argued that Ma cannot run for chairman this year, because his tenure from Aug. 19, 2005 to Feb. 13, 2007 already counts as one term.
In 2011, Kang's re-election to the mayoral office was declared void by the High Court, which reasoned that since Kang had already served two consecutive terms, he was barred from running for a third, despite the fact that he had stepped down prematurely to run for legislator during his second term.
According to a KMT member who attended yesterday's meeting, lawmaker Yang Chiung-ying said that it was ridiculous to use Kang's case as a reference, while Taipei Councilor Lai Su-ru said that the crucial difference between the two cases is that Kang's successor was “appointed” as acting mayor, while Ma's successor, Wu, “ran” for the position and was subsequently “elected.”
Committee member Lee Te-wei reportedly said that he found Tsai's arguments somewhat persuasive.
Lee was cited as asking rhetorically, if Ma is elected chairman this year and resigns before half of his term is served, would he still be eligible to run in 2017?
Lee, however, stressed that he is not “anti-Ma,” and that he supports having the president serve as party chairman, for the sake of administrative efficiency.
Another committee member, on the other hand, said that once a person is elected chairperson, he or she may run for one consecutive term, referring to Wu's election in 2007 and subsequent chairmanship.
According to this argument, Wu's tenure counts as one term, and he could have run for a successive term, but was barred from a hypothetical third attempt.