Fri, Feb 01, 2002 - Page 1 News List

Parties shore up support for vote

LAST-MINUTE EFFORTS The country's political parties tried yesterday to get their lawmakers in line to vote for the `right' candidates in today's vote for the legislature's speaker and vice speaker

By Crystal Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Incumbent Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng, right, shakes hands with DPP lawmaker Yen Ching-fu while canvassing for his re-election bid outside the venue of the DPP caucus meeting yesterday.

PHOTO: CHEN CHENG-CHANG, TAIPEI TIMES

With the legislature to elect its speaker and vice speaker today, rival camps made last-ditch efforts yesterday to consolidate support for their candidates amid rumors of defections.

All parties have required their members to cast their vote into separate ballot boxes today to ensure their loyalty.

Incumbent Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), a KMT member, is poised to retain his seat, as the ruling DPP shied away from fielding a contender of its own.

He remained mum on whom he preferred as his deputy, though the DPP and the Taiwan Solidarity Union had called on him to take a stand.

At Wang's request, the KMT canceled its weekly Central Standing Committee meeting Wednesday. He termed the move as a "goodwill" gesture to the DPP, which will be the largest party in the legislature.

Analysts say that by calling off the meeting the KMT hinted that members are not bound to vote for the party's vice-speaker candidate Chiang Ping-kun (江丙坤), as he failed to win the official nomination.

Departing from past practice, the main opposition party does not make any threat to punish uncooperative members.

Yesterday evening, KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) personally hosted the party's legislative caucus meeting in which he urged some 60 lawmakers present to throw their support behind Chiang.

"Every single vote counts," Lien told the caucus. "Let's treat the elections of the speaker and vice speaker as an integral campaign." Up to 10 KMT legislators are said to favor DPP candidate Hong Chi-chang (洪奇昌) for vice speaker.

Liu Cheng-hung (劉政鴻), one of the alleged defectors, told reporters he would not make a final decision until Wang secured the speakership. The legislature will elect the speaker in the morning and the vice speaker in the afternoon.

The DPP, itself plagued by the specter of internal revolt on the matter, decided during an eleventh-hour meeting not to challenge Wang. The caucus passed a resolution that binds fellow lawmakers to "technically display" their vote before inserting it into the ballot box.

Incoming DPP legislator Chiu Chang (邱彰) protested the decision as compromising the dignity of the nation's highest lawmaking body.

"How can we expect average citizens to abide by the law when lawmakers take the lead to mock the rules," she said.

Internal election rules bar the displaying of ballots, though members are able to circumvent the regulation through subtle violations.

About five DPP legislators are said to withhold their support for Hong, according to a DPP lawmaker, who asked not to be named.

For his part, Hong went ahead and sought backing from colleagues across party lines. In the evening, he called on independent legislator-elect Sisy Chen (陳文茜), who held a dinner party with fellow female lawmakers.

Chen has made clear her intent to vote for Chiang, while other independents stayed tight-lipped over their voting decisions.

The People First Party, which on Monday entered an alliance with the KMT, also convened a caucus meeting last night in the hope of defusing defection attempts by cash-strapped members.

Scores of lawmakers from all parties are believed to have accepted payments as high as NT$30 million from one camp or the other in exchange for their support.Also See Story:

DPP has yet to decide on supporting Wang

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