Two KMT heavyweights could enter party chair race Monday

Two heavyweights in the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) are soon expected to make public their intention to run in the party's election for chairman scheduled for May 20.

Former Vice President Wu Den-yih (???) said Friday the party is facing crucial tests, and many party members have high expectations of him and have encouraged him "to take on responsibility at this difficult time for the KMT."

"I have to seriously consider the matter, and will make public my intentions on Monday," Wu said.

According to reports, some within the party are trying to persuade the two other main aspirants -- KMT Chairwoman Hung Hsiu-chu (???) and Vice Chairman Hau Lung-bin (???) -- to stay out of the race to prevent lingering animosity and a further split of the troubled party, leaving an open path for Wu.

Wu said, however, that he "has not touched on the issue" because "I only do the things I should do."

When Hau was asked if he will run in the election, he said he will soon announce his intentions after making a decision.

Hau's office said the former Taipei mayor has always insisted on doing what needs to be done, including initiating an ongoing campaign for a national referendum on whether Taiwan should open its market to food products from radiation-affected areas in Japan.

Sources have said Hau will run and will be in the race to stay.

If Wu and Hau do decide to run, it will likely be a three-way election given that Hung has already announced that she will seek another term.

Hung became chairwoman of the KMT in March 2016 after winning a by-election for the position. Her predecessor Eric Chu (???) stepped down to take responsibility for the KMT's drubbing in the presidential and legislative elections in January 2016.

There are also reportedly some people who want the more established potential candidates to step aside and pave the way for KMT Legislator Chiang Chi-chen (???) to run, believing that the 44-year-old could inject new vitality into the old party.

The KMT was already demoralized after its major defeat in the 2016 elections, and its predicament has grown worse due to financial difficulties after the new Democratic Progressive Party government moved to seize all of its assets.

The DPP-dominated Legislature passed the Statute on Handling the Inappropriate Assets of Political Parties and Their Affiliated Organizations in July, and the Cabinet set up a committee in August to implement the law.

According to the statute, the committee is to investigate, retroactively confiscate and return or restore to the rightful owners all assets obtained by the KMT and its affiliated organizations since Aug. 15, 1945, when Japan handed over its assets in Taiwan to the Republic of China, at which time the KMT was the ruling party.

The statute assumes that all KMT assets, except for party membership fees, political donations, government subsidies for its candidates running for public office and interest generated from these funds, are "ill-gotten" and must be transferred to the state or returned to their rightful owners.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel