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September 22, 2017

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KMT nixes Keelung mayoral nomination

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The ruling Kuomintang (KMT) yesterday retracted Keelung mayoral hopeful Huang Ching-tai's (黃景泰) nomination to run for the position in the upcoming seven-in-one elections in its Central Standing Committee meeting.

The decision was reportedly finalized with pronounced efficiency during the meeting, as Huang's previous actions were damaging to the KMT's reputation, noted KMT Vice Chairman and Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌).

Huang was summoned by prosecutors for questioning in mid-June over corruption allegations. Prosecutors attempted three times to detain him, but the speaker was released on bail by the district court. Huang has maintained that the allegations were part of an attempt to sabotage his chances of winning the race.

Before the vote that would ultimately strip Huang of his right to represent the KMT to run for Keelung mayor, a committee member allegedly suggested that Huang be allowed a one-week grace period, but the suggestion did not stand after the KMT confirmed that Huang insisted on running in the elections.

The retraction of Huang's right to run for Keelung mayor was proposed by Hau, Central Standing Committee members Hsieh Lung-chieh (謝龍介), Tseng Wen-pei (曾文培) and Hsu Chiao-hsin (徐巧芯).

According to the KMT, it had appointed Huang to run for Keelung mayor in a Central Standing Committee meeting held on Jan. 22, as Huang had come out first in public surveys; but the original appointment was invalidated after yesterday's vote.

KMT spokesman Charles Chen (陳以信) stated that 21 KMT members spoke out in support of the proposal during the meeting.

There were two ways the KMT considered dealing with Hau's proposal. The first was to postpone the vote to one week later, and the second was to inform Huang of the party's proposal and hopefully persuade him to reconsider his election bid.

KMT Vice Chairman Tseng Yung-chuan (曾永權) called Huang during the meeting, explaining the proposal and inquiring if Huang's decision to run for Keelung mayor had changed. "If Huang had decided not to run for mayor, the committee would not have passed the proposal," said Chen, who added that the following procedures would be handled as soon as possible.

Painful Decision: Ma

Huang's reputation and approval rates dropped dramatically after the corruption allegations, and the case could also damage the KMT's image, explained Hau in his proposal.

The decision came just one day after New Taipei Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) stated that the KMT is actively considering whether to nominate another candidate to run in the Keelung mayoral race.

Both Hau and KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou expressed frustration over the decision. "This is a painful yet necessary decision for us. If we didn't do it, it would damage the party even more," Chen reported Ma as saying.

See Analysis on page 16

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