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KMT attempts paradigm shift with new vice chairs

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Kuomintang (KMT) revealed yesterday the appointment of the three incumbent KMT mayors as new vice chairmen in hopes of reflecting grassroots voices from the general public.

Reportedly, President Ma Ying-jeou, who doubles as the ruling party's chairman, made individual calls to Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌), New Taipei Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) and Taichung Mayor Jason Hu (胡志強), inquiring as to the mayors' willingness to don the responsibilities of vice chairmen.

All three mayors have accepted the offers, the KMT said, adding that they are more than amenable to commit to the responsibilities amid the current difficulties.

According to reports, the mayors will replace existing Vice Chairmen Chan Chun-po (詹春柏), John Chiang (蔣孝嚴) and Lin Fong-cheng (林豐正), who have submitted their official resignations to Ma. Speculation that the mayors would take on the vice chairmen seats have long been circulated, with theories suggesting that the mayors would have been inaugurated during the KMT's 19th National Congress. Instead, Ma reappointed Chan, Chiang and Lin with incumbent Vice Chairmen Tseng Yung-chuan (曾永權), Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) and Huang Ming-hui (黃敏惠), who will serve alongside the three mayors.

Reportedly, when questioned on the connection between their vice chairmen inductions and the 2016 presidential election, all three mayors disputed in unison any relations between the vice chair positions and the upcoming polls.

Other theories that have surfaced to interpret the KMT's reasons behind the sudden appointment include the ruling party's eagerness to boost Ma's approval rates in the aftermath of the Sunflower Movement, as well as the aftereffect of the protest which started a wave within political parties to appoint younger politicians to influential positions to reflect public consensus.

Mayors Respond to Vice Chairmen Appointments

In response to their appointments as vice chairmen, the KMT mayors of Taipei, New Taipei and Taichung released individual statements.

Hau quoted the Chinese idiom “honor does not allow one to glance back” during a press interview, where he said that he believes all three mayors have been appointed as a result of their strong connections with the general public, and that they should do their best in raising the KMT's reputation amid current troubles.

Chu, who last served as vice chairman in 2010, was questioned by press yesterday over the appropriateness of criticizing government policies while in office, which he has been known to do in the past. Chu replied that he will continue to perform the same role as a mayor, reflecting the voice of the general public.

During Hu's interview, the mayor said that he answered Ma's call, stating that to stand alongside Ma during a time of hardship for the KMT is his unshirkable responsibility, and that he wishes to fully perform his duty to communicate grassroots voices from the people to the KMT.

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