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September 25, 2017

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KMT chairwoman apologizes to staff over unpaid wages

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Kuomintang (KMT) Chairwoman Hung Hsiu-chu held back tears while apologizing to party workers for being unable to pay their September salaries, according to a Saturday newspaper report.

The funding shortfall comes after government move to freeze the opposition party's assets.

Hung's apology came during a Friday meeting with the heads of local KMT chapters, the Chinese language United Evening News said.

The report said Hung had apologized to all party workers, with the KMT's chairwoman saying she had not been working hard enough.

Hung's heartfelt and somewhat animated apology surprised many of the party officials in attendance, the paper said.

Some of those present said Hung's emotional response was a marked contrast to her composed demeanor when she ditched as the party's presidential candidate last year.

Hung was replaced as nominee by Eric Chu during a specially arranged meeting of the party's congress in October 2015.

The government's Ill-gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee has frozen a major bank account belonging to the main opposition party as part of its ongoing investigations.

Bank checks totaling NT$468 million bound for party staff salaries have also been seized.

Only two bank accounts belonging to the KMT remain active.

The party retained access to the two accounts, one for political donations and another for receiving party membership fees, after the committee declared both to be above board.

Hung told the local party chiefs there was around NT$63 million left in the political donations account with around NT$12 million remaining from membership fees.

But she told the meeting not all of the money in the first account was free for use on salaries.

The KMT chairwoman said many of the donations were already earmarked for local chapters or other specific purposes.

According to the United Evening News, the KMT has less than NT$20 million at its discretion from the two accounts.

Party Infighting?

The KMT chief took time at the meeting to defend the new cross-strait policy adopted at the party's congress in early September.

Under the new policy, the KMT has committed to strengthening the "1992 Consensus."

Hung's defense of the policy comes after KMT heavyweight and former Vice President Wu Den-yih, criticized the absence of a clause allowing for "different interpretations of one China" during an overseas visit last week.

Hung said the decision to adopt the new cross-strait platform was made after lengthy discussions, adding it had been passed without objection from the congress.

The KMT chairwoman did concede however that the KMT still had an obligation to explain the new policy to party members.

She went on to say she would discuss the changes with her "comrade" Wu upon his return to Taiwan.

Hung was speaking in response to reporters' requests for comments on Wu's skepticism about the new cross-strait platform.

Asked how the KMT would unfreeze the assets, Hung said they were considering legal action.

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