Sun, Apr 17, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Soong may be losing grip in PFP rebellion

By Chin Heng-wei 金恆煒

A few days ago, People First Party (PFP) Legislator Chou Hsi-wei (周錫瑋) sneaked into the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) Huang Fu-hsing headquarters in Taipei County to complete the procedures for restoring his KMT membership.

His papers were whisked away to the party's central headquarters, and Chou had his KMT membership reinstated.

Although Chou left the PFP to run for Taipei County commissioner on a KMT ticket, the episode shows that the PFP is beginning to come apart -- and it is doing so publicly.

Chou is not the only one who has sided with the KMT.

His action signals a growing rebellion against PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜), or, in the party's own parlance, "the first signs of the Wuchang Uprising."

Chou's action must be seen together with Lin Yu-fang's (林郁方) turnaround. In the legislature's procedure committee, Lin has found a reason to declare war against the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), following friendly overtures toward KMT legislators.

This is in opposition to the declaration that came out of the meeting between President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Soong, and it's similar to Chou's actions.

The difference is that Chou kept a low profile, while Lin beat his drum for everyone to hear. The conflict between PFP factions is now red hot.

Lin's sudden revolt was not unexpected, but rather shows that the anti-Soong forces inside the party have consolidated, and they may even have a follow-up plan.

There have been reports that Soong had no prior knowledge of Chou or Lin's actions, and he has also shown his dissatisfaction with the party caucus.

The fact that the party leadership did not call Lin in for a meeting, but declared its position in the form of a statement shows that the leadership is weakening, and that it treats former party buddies as outsiders. And as if this was not enough, Lin joined with the KMT to block 30 DPP bills.

The DPP caucus immediately issued a statement to point out that, "The PFP legislative caucus should understand the whole situation, and avoid making wrong decisions and affecting the basis for cooperation built by Chen and Soong at their meeting."

The strange thing is that the DPP legislative caucus and the PFP leadership seem to want the same thing, and that Lin is the outsider.

Even more strangely, the PFP leadership's statement on Lin's action affirms the DPP caucus' statement and calls for the government and opposition to respect each other, instead of competing to win credit for their achievements.

The question is when the PFP's legislative caucus -- and not the party's leadership -- became the "opposition."

As the PFP deals with Chou's move, it is not primarily aiming at Chou, but rather at the KMT. It's trying to determine whether the KMT is attempting to split the PFP, while at the same time letting political interests define its view of Chou.

The PFP encompasses varying political interests and factional struggles. To put it another way, "political interests" and "factional struggles" are two sides of the same coin.

Has the PFP really been trying, as Soong and the party's spokesperson are saying, to find a way past the blue-green impasse following the meeting between Chen and Soong? Looking at the legislature, the KMT and the PFP are still firmly in the same corner.

It's not clear whether Soong has lost power, or if he is unable to make up his mind.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top