Kuomintang (KMT), Taiwan's main opposition party, endorsed Ma Ying-jeou, a popular Harvard-educated lawyer who favors reconciliation with the mainland, as its "presidential" candidate yesterday.
The second session of the party's 17th party congress also endorsed Vincent Siew as Ma's running mate in next year's leader election. Thousands of flag-waving party faithful took part in the boisterous congress to formalize the nomination, rallying behind Ma in a show of unity. The party hopes the former Taipei mayor can win back the "presidency" they lost to Chen Shui-bian's Democratic Progressive Party in 2000.
"I declare here that I run for the 'president' so that Taiwan can march ahead, so that Taiwan will win for sure," Ma said, evoking a popular slogan for better economic growth on the island, as dozens of KMT "lawmakers" and other party heavyweights stood behind him.
Ma also accused Chen's administration of unnecessarily agitating Beijing and upsetting regional stability by pursuing independence.
"The issue of unification and independence has been a pseudo subject that should be put aside," Ma said. "We should improve cross-Straits relations so that we can improve our international standing."
Ma on Saturday selected veteran economic expert Vincent Siew as his running mate on a ticket that promotes closer links with the mainland as a way to help boost the island's lackluster economy.
Ma will face the DPP's Frank Hsieh in what political observers expect to be a closely contested "presidential" race in March.
The KMT favors eventual unification with the mainland, and Ma has gained the support of many business leaders who want closer trade links with the mainland to help bolster their global competitiveness.
(Xinhua News Agency June 25, 2007)