But Wang Jin-pyng won't be drawn on 2008 presidency Veteran legislature speaker Wang Jin-pyng yesterday officially threw his hat into the ring for the chairmanship of the Kuomintang, Taiwan's largest opposition party. Mr Wang's candidacy, announced on his 64th birthday amid greetings from hundreds of well-wishers and supporters, would pose a serious threat to popular Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou, who had also decided to run for the top post in the 111-year-old party, observers and analysts said. The contest is scheduled for July 16. It could also affect Mr Ma's presidential bid in 2008, although the 54-year-old mayor has yet to reveal that he is eyeing the island's top post, they said. Mr Wang, speaker of the Legislative Yuan for five terms since 1988 and a crafty politician with numerous political connections - including to President Chen Shui-bian and former president Lee Teng-hui - is considered a more-than-worthy opponent to Mr Ma. At a news conference in Taipei, Mr Wang, who is also a KMT vice-chairman, said his intention to run for the post of chairman was purely for the sake of the party. 'It is all for the reform and the future of the party,' he said, adding that he hoped the July 16 race would be a 'gentlemen's fight' that would not affect party harmony and unity. Mr Wang said that if he were elected, he would not change the party's name, nor that of the island from the Republic of China. This is despite the fact that he has been regarded as loyal to Mr Lee, who left the party in 2001 after openly embracing Taiwan's independence. On speculation that he joined the race because he wanted to run for the 2008 presidency, Mr Wang said his campaign plan had nothing to do with the top job. 'The duty of the next KMT chairman is to find the best candidate and to send him to the presidential office,' he said, without elaborating. He vowed to seek a union of the three opposition parties, the KMT and its splinter groups, the People First Party and the New Party. He said such an alliance would be the only way to help the KMT return to power. The party was ousted from government by Chen Shui-bian of the Democratic Progressive Party in the 2000 presidential poll. Analysts and Taiwanese media said that Mr Ma, one of four KMT vice-chairmen, was a 'lonely bird' in his party, despite his popularity among the people. They said his refusal to form an alliance with other politicians and his 'Mr Clean' image had made him less popular among the party's rank and file, which would make his pursuit of the chairman's post an uphill battle.