Thu, Jan 30, 2003 - Page 1 News List

KMT gives reprieve to PFP's chairman

ABOUT FACE The largest opposition party said James Soong, former KMT secretary-general, was not party to embezzlement in the Chung Hsing Bills Finance scandal

By Sandy Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The KMT yesterday said PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) was not involved in the embezzling of KMT funds in the Chung Hsing Bills Finance Case and expressed its regret to Soong, calling on both parties to put the past behind them and move forward in good faith.

"The Chung Hsing Bills Finance case has nothing to do with Soong," said head of the KMT Administration and Management Committee Chang Che-chen (張哲琛) at a press conference yesterday. "The misunderstanding between the party and Soong over this matter is now over and comes to a close."

Held at the KMT's headquarters, the purpose of the press conference was to clarify accusations the party once made against Soong over his alleged embezzlement.

The accusation was made three years ago when Soong was expelled from the KMT for running his own maverick campaign in the 2000 presidential elections. Soong, who ran as an independent, obtained 36 percent of the vote, while Lien, the KMT candidate, came in at a distant third with 23 percent.

During the campaign, the KMT filed a lawsuit against Soong, accusing him of embezzling large sums from party coffers during his tenure as the party's secretary-general. After the election, prosecutors said there wasn't enough evidence to try the Chung Hsing Bills Finance case and the KMT dropped the charges.

It was during that time that the KMT ran a series of negative advertisements targeting Soong's credibility.

"The KMT is deeply sorry for having caused any inconvenience or damage to Soong because of remarks made by KMT officials during the [2000] presidential election," Chang said.

Chang explained Soong's alleged embezzlement by saying that the transactions Soong was involved entailed funds entrusted to Soong by former party chairman Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) to perform various task on the party's agenda.

With regard to another accusation made by the party during the 2000 presidential campaign that Soong had embezzled government money while serving as Taiwan provincial governor, Chang explained that the accusation "was a result of being unfamiliar with government financial allocation procedure."

Chang said that the party's accusation against Soong with regard to embezzlement "has all been a result of misunderstanding."

"The KMT hereby makes the clarification to clear Soong's name and hopes that both parties can let bygones be bygones and move ahead in good faith to work together for a better tomorrow for Taiwan," Chang said.

Media speculation suggests that the KMT made the effort to clear Soong's name as a peace offering to Soong to get him to agree with the KMT's preference for fielding KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) as the presidential candidate.

Denying that the clarification of Soong's charges was motivated by next year's presidential elections, Chang stressed that the only reason behind the party's motive to make the gesture was to let the truth be known.

On behalf of Soong, Chen Cheng-sheng (陳振盛), the PFP's spokesman, said at a press conference that Soong was gratified by the KMT's gesture.

Chen said that "Soong has never embezzled a dime from the KMT nor the government and is glad that the KMT's remarks have cleared his name which had been tarnished by the party's previous accusations."

Chen added that "Soong is willing to let bygones be bygones and will now move ahead with his eyes focused, not on the past, but on the future."

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