Fri, Oct 10, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Lien-Soong ticket gets go-ahead

CROSS-PARTY PAIRING The DPP gave its rivals a boost, helping push through changes that allow members of different political parties to team up in presidential elections

By Fiona Lu  /  STAFF REPORTER

A Taiwan Solidarity Union legislator, left, holds up a placard saying ``Arnold article: Mainlanders should not run for Taiwan president,'' as two Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators hold up signs reading ``oppose'' during yesterday's review of proposed amendments to the President and Vice President Election and Recall Law. Arnold refers to newly elected California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was born in Austria. The US does not allow non-native citizens to run in presidential elections.

PHOTO: CHU PEI-HSIUNG, TAIPEI TIMES

The legislature paved the way yesterday for a joint presidential bid by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜).

The Legislative Yuan approved revisions to the President and Vice President Election and Recall Law (正副總統選舉罷免法), making it legal for the pair to run together in the March presidential election.

Lien and Soong got the legal support they were seeking after the pan-blue-controlled legislature vetoed a proposal by Taiwan Solidarity Union Legislator Chen Chien-ming (陳建銘) that stated a presidential ticket could only be formed within one political party.

The legislature overwhelmingly rejected Chen's proposal, with 177 lawmakers voting against it and 24 in favor.

The TSU ascribed the setback to its being abandoned by its pan-green ally, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

"We blame the DPP for its action in collusion with the pan-blue parties," TSU whip Liao Pen-yen (廖本煙) said after the vote.

DPP legislative leader Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said the ruling party's priority was defending the Executive Yuan.

"The DPP caucus did not order its members to vote against the TSU proposal," Chen said.

"Our mission was to safeguard passage of the amended law following compromises achieved by the Cabinet and the pan-blue parties in multiparty negotiations," he said.

Chen said, thanks to the decision, the DPP successfully prevented pan-blue lawmakers from adding an article about absentee voting in the revised law, while the DPP government succeeded in tightening rules for political donations to presidential candidates.

The legislature rejected another TSU proposal that only Taiwan-born nationals should be eligible for registering as presidential and vice presidential candidates.

Presented by Liao, the article stated that only citizens born in Taiwan and the offshore islands of Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu should enjoy the right to register as presidential and vice presidential candidates.

The rule would have excluded Lien, Soong and even Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) from running for president. Lien and Soong were born in China and Ma was born in Hong Kong.

Many nations, including the US, place similar restrictions on their immigrants, TSU Legislator Chen Chien-ming said on Wednesday.

"The limited citizenship of the newly elected California governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, was one such case," Chen said.

The Austria-born action-movie hero is banned from pursuing the US presidency, despite his having US citizenship, because he was not born in the US.

Legislators also dismissed a TSU motion seeking to deprive citizens whose outstanding income-tax debts exceed one third of their four-year presidential salary.

The motion was seen as targeting Soong, who has faced allegations of tax evasion since the disclosure of the Chung Hsing Bills scandal in 1999.

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