KMT candidate to meet Ma about teaming up

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 31 May, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 31 May, 2007, 12:00am

Hopes of a much-anticipated union between Taiwan's Kuomintang presidential candidate and the legislature Speaker have been raised with the two set to meet today.

Wang Jin-pyng said yesterday he would meet Ma Ying-jeou, the KMT's presidential candidate, to discuss how the two could co-operate to ensure a KMT victory next March. 'We are going to have a meeting to exchange views,' he said following reports that he would team up with Ma.

Political pundits have said that if the two co-operated, it would greatly increase the KMT's chances.

Mr Wang has been Ma's rival since the Speaker lost the KMT chairmanship election in 2005, and he had strongly hinted that he would not want to be Ma's running mate.

The former KMT vice-chairman backed out of the presidential primary this year after learning that most opinion polls favoured Ma, despite the fact that he is facing graft charges.

While most expected Mr Wang would turn his back on Ma, long-time friend Lin Ping-kun, chairman of the Coalition of Independent Legislators, had said that he may change his mind. Mr Lin said that the Speaker had agreed that it could hurt him if he refused because opposition supporters had called for the two to team up.

Mr Lin said he told Mr Wang that if Ma lost the race, KMT supporters would blame the Speaker for failing to help. Mr Lin said that after thinking the issue over, Mr Wang wanted to hear from Ma about his plans to run for president.

Yesterday, Mr Wang met former party chairman Lien Chan, and then incumbent chairman Wu Poh-hsiung to exchange views on such a team-up. Mr Wu said the Speaker did not think it would be a problem for him to co-operate with Ma, but he would make a decision after meeting Ma. Mr Wu said he strongly hoped that the two could run together because he thought their co-operation could boost the KMT's chances.

Ma had said Mr Wang was his top choice as running mate and would consider others only after Mr Wang declined.