Wed, Oct 18, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Soong has shown his true colors

People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) finally threw his hat into the Taipei mayoral race yesterday. Judging by the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) sudden decision to remove its support for Soong's proposed no-confidence motion against Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) on Monday, Soong's announcement hardly came as a surprise.

Soong's anti-Su proposal was clearly meant to raise his profile and set the stage for his mayoral bid. But while the KMT may have been willing to accommodate Soong in the past, the PFP chairman's latest action has created a rift in the pan-blue camp as it would pit him against the KMT's own candidate, Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌).

With Soong joining the Taipei mayoral race, there seems to be little hope now of the two parties cooperating in the year-end contest. The PFP hopes to keep the fire of the anti-President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) campaign burning with its no-confidence motion against the premier, hoping to attract the support of the Shih Ming-teh's (施明德) "red" mob. This puts the policies and the electoral strategy of the two parties at odds, leaving them no option but to go their separate ways.

What does the PFP hope to achieve in toppling the Su Cabinet? Realizing that the shift to the "single-district, two-vote system" next year would be unfavorable to smaller parties, the PFP is hoping that toppling the Cabinet would lead Chen to dissolve the legislature, paving the way for early elections. The PFP would rather risk a snap election now when it can ride on the wave of public support for the anti-corruption campaign, thinking that the current political mood would favor its more radical line.

The KMT is the biggest opposition party, and looks set to regain its power. While it shares the PFP's stance against the ruling party, it is not as desperate nor as uncompromising. Legislation for new electoral districts and voting methods have not yet been completed. As such, if the legislature were dissolved, there would be a period in which the executive, legislative and control yuans will have to cease all normal functions. All checks on the president's authority will cease -- a situation that the KMT would not like to see.

If the government falls and Chen chooses to forgo disbanding the legislature in favor of inviting Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) to form a new Cabinet, the KMT could find itself divided. This may even lead to a DPP government that controls a majority in the legislature.

After more than a month of anti-Chen demonstrations, KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has said that it is time for people to take a break. If prosecutors were to find the members of the first family guilty of corruption, there will be time for new street protests or further motions to recall or impeach the president, according to Ma. This line of thinking falls within the scope of the rule of law and upholds the nation's democratic values.

Unfortunately, the PFP's indiscriminate slash-and-burn politics and Shih's street protests are all designed to upset the nation's stability. Soong and Shih are nothing but political opportunists unconcerned with the nation's long-term political development. With the havoc that the two have created in the past, the DPP, or possibly the KMT in the future, are left with the long and laborious task of picking up the pieces.

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