Sat, Aug 25, 2001 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Soong basks in the limelight

What a rare moment for People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜). He has the spotlight all to himself. Soong's announcement of a breakdown in the KMT-PFP's effort to cooperate in the year-end elections came as the Presidential Office confirmed that President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) met secretly with Soong last month. Times haven't been so good to Soong since the Chung Shing Bills Finance scandal.

To any politician, no news is bad news. In the past months, the opposition alliance has completely overshadowed Soong's personal allure. This puts the PFP in a crisis, as Soong's personal appeal is about the party's only asset. Therefore, PFP launched a campaign to seize the headlines, so that Soong would have a chance to shine.

Forever eager to speak Soong's mind whenever the master fears a backlash, PFP Vice Chairman Chang Chao-hsiung (張昭雄) kicked off the campaign by saying the opposition was "pan-Soong" rather than "pan-KMT." Soong then sought to raise the stakes by returning to his all-too-familiar role, "the persecuted governor turned chairman."

After all, his excellent performance in this role almost won him the presidency. To tap this tragic image, Soong has obsessed about the PFP's grievances in its effort to cooperate with the KMT. What possible grievances could the PFP have suffered? Chang was the one repeatedly lambasting the KMT.

In the crucial Taipei County Commissioner's race, the PFP insists on keeping its candidate, although Chin Chin-sheng (秦金生) trails far behind in the polls. Yes, Chin finally declared his withdrawal yesterday. But he had no chance of winning anyway. The only reason he stuck it out for so long was to help the Soong camp paint itself as put upon.

The recent turn of events has also stirred speculation about a love triangle between the PFP, KMT and DPP. The PFP is trying to keep a relatively equal distance between both so it can play "The Price is Right." The PFP desperately needs political and financial resources -- not just for the year-end elections, but for Soong's presidential aspirations as well. Both the KMT -- the richest political party in the world -- and the DPP have what the PFP needs. How to make them more willing to share those goodies with the PFP has become the party's top priority.

It is a foregone conclusion that no single party will win a legislative majority in the year-end elections. Without resources and qualified candidates, the PFP is expected to place behind the KMT and DPP. So whoever allies with the PFP will have a legislative majority. The PFP's calculating manipulations are truly loathsome. It apparently doesn't care what policies it has to spout, just as long as it can win. For example, the common denominators in the opposition alliance are their "one China" and unification policies. If Soong can keep harping on these, then he can attract a larger voter base among current and former KMT members.

There doesn't appear to be any overlap in policies between the DPP and PFP in terms of cross-strait issues -- but the PFP has remained deliberately hazy on virtually all domestic issues -- in order not to alienate any possible DPP supporters. Under the circumstances, any alliance between the DPP and PFP would be a classic marriage of political convenience, unworthy of any blessing. But that is unlikely to be much of an impediment to Soong, if it keeps his political hopes alive.

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