Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou reelected as KMT chairman

Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou on Saturday was reelected as the chairman of the ruling Nationalist Party (KMT), despite the highest number of invalid votes cast since Ma ran in the party chairman election in 2005.

Voter turnout was nearly 58 percent with Ma -- the sole candidate in the election -- winning almost 92 percent of the vote.

About 8 percent of KMT members cast invalid votes, showing their discontent with the president's domestic policies, including economic and pension reforms.

Analysts said the high number of invalid votes came as a direct response to Ma's failure to formulate a concrete plan to tackle the widening wealth gap, growing unemployment and high housing prices in urban areas.

Policy flip-flop, failure to deliver on promises and government corruption have taken a heavy toll on Ma's reputation, according to recent surveys.

Some observers criticized the Taiwanese president as insensitive, when he lamented the lack of appreciation for his "hard work" earlier this week, at a time when the whole nation was in shock about the abuse of a young army soldier who died of a heat stroke following severe punishment for carrying a camera-equipped phone in violation of a standing order.

About 15,000 people on Saturday gathered outside the Defense Ministry in Taipei, protesting the abuse of the 24-year old soldier and demanding justice.

The protest dealt a further blow to Ma who had rejected the defense minister's resignation over the scandal.

Another rally was held Saturday evening outside the legislature.

On Friday, demonstrators gathered outside Ma's campaign headquarters in Taipei and in front of the residence of a KMT official in Miaoli county to voice their anger about the forced demolition of houses in the county's Dapu borough.

Despite public discontent over domestic policies, Ma has received recognition for his efforts to maintain peace with China.

The two sides inked an agreement on trade in services last month, a follow-up pact under the landmark Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement signed in June 2010.

Ma was previously elected KMT chairman twice, winning around 72 percent of the votes in the 2005 chairmanship election and about 94 percent in 2009.