Taiwan's presidential hopeful refuses to quit amid low support and rumours of KMT replacing her
Hung Hsiu-chu vows to press on in open defiance of her party's call for her to step down
Hung Hsiu-chu, the struggling presidential candidate of Taiwan’s ruling Kuomintang, remained defiant on Tuesday and pledged she will not step down as the party’s candidate and will remain in the race right to the end.
“I will insist on my original intention to run for president and carry out my promise … even though some party members have tried to persuade me to quit,” Hung told a press conference on Tuesday afternoon.
Hung’s remark came just a few hours after the party’s chairman Eric Chu said that the party needed to look at the “likely success or failure of an individual” in the forthcoming presidential election after media reports had suggested it was considering ditching its struggling candidate.
Rumours that KMT is planning to replace Hung have been circulating since last week, with one claim saying that the KMT’s leadership had suggested that Chu stand for the presidency with Hung as his deputy, only for Hung to insist that he should act as her deputy.
“Until this moment, I couldn’t believe that [the rumours about me being replaced] were actually true,” Hung told the press conference.
She added that she would not accept any enticements to make her withdraw, including the suggestion that she should stand as a vice-presidential candidate and could have her campaign costs paid by the KMT.
Hung has to raise all her campaign funds by herself, including public donations, because the KMT leadership has refused to give her financial support after she became the party’s sole presidential candidate.
Hung is already trailing rival Tsai Ing-wen, the candidate from the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party, in recent polls carried out with members of the electorate.
There were growing concerns within the party that Hung lagged behind not only behind Tsai, but also another candidate, James Soong, of People First Party, a minor opposition party, the Central News Agency reported on Monday.
The United Daily News reported on Tuesday that Chu and another senior party official had discussed with Hung the idea of her standing down from the election on three separate occasions in recent weeks.
Chu told reporters in Taipei on Tuesday that he and Hung had talked about the reports suggesting she drop out.
“May be she doesn’t care about her personal success or failure [in her political career],” Chu said. “But as the KMT chairman, I must consider our party’s future existence … and I told her that, if necessary, I will take responsibility [for finding a replacement].
“I needed to tell her a truth that, from a grassroots level right up to heavyweights within the party, there are differing opinions and voices concerning her [nomination for presidential election].”
However, he refused to say whether he would replace Hung in the election. Chu said the KMT would make a decision about any new nomination only after talks between key members, including President Ma Ying-jeou, Vice-President Wu Den-yih, and the Legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng.
Chu added that so far Hung had refused to give up her candidacy,
Hung was quoted by CNA as saying on Tuesday: “I cannot think of a reason to quit at the moment.”
Rumours that KMT is planning to replace Hung have been circulating since last week, with one claim saying that the KMT’s leadership had suggested that Chu stand for the presidency with Hung as his deputy, only for Hung to insist that he should be her deputy.