Fri, Sep 17, 1999 - Page 1 News List

KMT set for showdown with Soong

INTRAPARTY POLITICS The KMT is readying for a battle next week as its disciplinary committee prepares to act against James Soong. The former provincial governor is not about to take it lying down


As KMT maverick James Soong (宋楚瑜) boosted his defense yesterday against charges that he had misappropriated money as provincial governor, sources within the KMT said that Soong could be expelled from the party as early as next Wednesday.

Reports of quick disciplinary action came a day after President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) reportedly said "the sooner Soong is punished the better."

Chien Wei-chang (簡維章), director of the party's evaluation and discipline committee, told reporters yesterday that his committee had submitted a disciplinary proposal to secretary-general John Chang (章孝嚴).

Chien said he hopes to get the package ready for discussion at the next meeting of the party's central standing committee on Wednesday.

Soong is about to face the music for declaring his candidacy for president without permission from the party and for launching verbal attacks against the KMT's leadership.

Soong's party membership could either be suspended or revoked, Chien said.

The first wave of action will be targeted at Soong alone, while elected officials supporting Soong will be disciplined in subsequent waves, he said.

The evaluation and discipline committee has been collecting data and preparing for the action since Soong declared his intent to run, Chien said. "Now everything is ready and we are waiting for an order from Chang to hold a meeting of the committee," he said.

A lively debate is expected at the disciplinary committee's meeting, as Chien said "the matter may be put to a vote if necessary."

Soong was not rolling over yesterday, however, as he held a press conference to counter allegations that he had misspent the budget during his term as provincial governor.

The allegations surfaced earlier in the day, when Su Chih-chang (蘇志誠), director of the secretariat at the Presidential Office, showed television reporters a detailed breakdown of the provincial government's budget expenditures over the past seven years. Specifically, he asked why it was that a certain item, for local emergency expenditures, increased dramatically after Soong took office.

"Nobody knows where this money went, or which project it was applied to, or through which channels it was distributed," Su said. "I think Soong should disclose the facts.''

Soong hit back later in the afternoon, with the aid of diagrams and charts showing exactly what had been done with the budget at his disposal.

"All tax revenues have to be allotted in accordance with each county's budgetary accounting items and they are supervised by the county councils, thus I was not even able to portion out the money to my campaign boosters,'' Soong said.

No sooner had Soong finished, though, than the KMT mainstream opened fire on him again.

"If Soong really didn't give out money to campaign boosters, how come Taichung County council speaker Yen Ching-piao (顏清標) told the public he had received NT$100 million from Soong?'' said Ting Yuan-chao (丁遠超), spokesman for Vice President and KMT presidential candidate Lien Chan (連戰).

"I am not questioning whether Soong had spent the money on public affairs, but rather how he spent it,'' Ting added.

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