Mon, Mar 31, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Lien, Soong get party approval

CANDIDACY The KMT and PFP selected their chairmen to run on a joint ticket yesterday but it still remains to be decided who will vie for the presidency itself

By Sandy Huang and Lin Mei-chun  /  STAFF REPORTER

National party congresses of the KMT and the PFP yesterday selected their chairmen, Lien Chan (連戰) and James Soong (宋楚瑜) respectively, as candidates for next March's presidential election.

The KMT-PFP alliance, forged by Lien and Soong last month, was also approved by the two parties' national party congresses, allowing the two parties to plan a joint ticket for the presidential race.

The KMT held its congress at the National Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall while the PFP's was at the Civil Service Development Institute.

In a speech delivered after getting the KMT congress' endorsement, Lien pledged that, if elected as president next year, he would make an immediate visit to China, dubbed by him as a "journey of peace."

"As long as it can enable peaceful relation for the both sides of the Strait, I am willing to shoulder this mission and responsibility for the sake of Taiwan's 23 million people and their offspring," Lien told his audience.

"I will push for immediate opening of a direct air link with China and sign several agreements with China so that Taiwan and mainland people can live in peace," Lien said.

He would also push for the proper implementation of Taiwan's "semi-presidential system" he said.

Citing the KMT's achievements made during its decades-long rule in Taiwan before losing power to the DPP in 2000, Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), also a member of the KMT's Central Standing Committee, said in a speech delivered on behalf of the committee that "the KMT is better suited to be the ruling party and the DPP is better suited to playing the role of the opposition party."

Lien and Soong are slated to meet on Wednesday to further exchange views on its KMT-PFP Alliance Policy-making Committee, which will serve to thrash out issues related to cooperation between the two parties.

While the parties have agreed to file a joint ticket for the election there has yet been no agreement on who would lead it, though it is widely assumed that Lien will take this role.

During the KMT's national party congress, Ma was named by Lien and approved by the party con-gress, with applause, to be a party vice chairman in addition to the current five.

However, one of the five vice chairpersons, Chiang Chung-ling (蔣仲苓), noting his advanced age and his desire to "echo Lien's call for adjusting party leadership toward a more youthful direction," announced during the meeting that he would step down from his vice chairman post.

"[My resignation] has nothing to do with Ma's assumption of the vice chairmanship," Chiang said.

The KMT congress both approved Chiang's resignation and the selection of Legislative Yuan vice speaker Chiang Ping-kun (江丙坤) to fill the vacancy left by Chiang Chung-ling.

Commenting on the opposition camp's nominations of Lien and Soong, DPP Deputy Secretary General Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) called the duo "old wine in a new bottle."

The two parties had made no progress in the last three years in the issues of strengthening intra-party democracy and exterminating "black gold" politics, Lee said.

The congress decision had been long decided in advance by the party leaders and the congress process was a travesty of a democratic selection process, Lee said.

Lee said the semi-presidential system was really a scheme seeking to pave the way for Soong's serving as vice president and premier concurrently.

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