05/03/2007, 00.00
TAIWAN
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Ma Ying-jeou chosen KMT candidate in 2008 presidential elections

Despite corruption charges and internal party rivalries, the KMT leadership chooses Taipei’s former mayor as its sole candidate against the Democratic Progressive Party led by independence-leaning Chen Shui-bian.

Taipei (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Taiwan's Kuomintang (Nationalist Party or KMT) has nominated former Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou as its sole candidate in next year's presidential election despite the corruption charges laid against him in the last three months and internal party challenges from a powerful rival, Wang Jin-pyng.

The KMT hopes to exploit public opinion which is favourable to Mr Ma to regain power after two electoral defeats at the hands of the Democratic Progressive Party led by Chen Shui-bian.

But next year’s elections are not a given even though just a year ago Ma was still considered invincible, given his persistent high popularity compared with other politicians in Taiwan.

Allegations that he embezzled NT$ 11 million (US$ 400,000) when he was Taipei mayor have tainted his image.

Despite all the odds, Mr Ma remains high-spirited and yesterday attacked his DPP adversaries. “For seven years, because of the inability of the DPP government, our economy has remained in the doldrums and all of us have suffered bitterly,” Mr Ma said.

On cross-strait relations, which saw mainland China welcome three KMT delegations in recent years, he said that his policies would be based on co-operative independence.

“If the KMT becomes the ruling party, it will not control local investments on the mainland,” he said; instead, it would encourage Taiwanese businessmen investing in that economy.

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