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July 22, 2017

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Premier backs Ma's KMT chair re-election bid

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Big endorsements rolled in yesterday for Ma Ying-jeou to run again for Kuomintang (KMT) chairman, even as the president's integrity is questioned over the bribery scandal of a close aide.

At the Legislative Yuan yesterday, Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) denied a lawmaker's claim that he is eyeing his own campaign for KMT chair. "Absolutely not," he said during an interpellation session.

"If you are interested in my ideas about my own political party, I would report to you: I support another term for President Ma Ying-jeou," said Jiang.

Legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), and Wang Chien-shien (王建煊) of the Control Yuan (監察院), also endorsed Ma for another term.

"We should all support Ma's re-election as party chair, so that he has more power with which to conduct reform," said Wang Chien-shien.

Wang Jin-pyng, a poll favorite for rival contender, reiterated yesterday that he has no intention of vying with Ma for the KMT chair.

"When the president is also the KMT chairman, government policy can be developed consistently," he said.

The endorsements come after a fresh bribery scandal that has sent shockwaves through the ruling party. Prosecutors are investigating Lai Su-ju (賴素如), Ma's political consultant who directs his KMT office, for pocketing a bribe during the bidding process of the Taipei Twin Towers.

Opposition lawmakers have stressed Lai's closeness to Ma and called into question the president's graft-free image. Meanwhile, some in the KMT are urging Ma to rethink his returning bid for party chairman.

KMT Legislator Lo Shu-lei (羅淑蕾) told local media yesterday that the KMT party leadership is a taxing responsibility. "The president is very busy. There are many things that he can't attend to, and many people's behaviors that he cannot supervise," said Lo.

"If he wants to run, of course I would support the bid," said KMT lawmaker Chi Kuo-tung (紀國棟). "But I would be trembling all the way."

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