Wed, May 19, 2004 - Page 1 News List

KMT, PFP ready to join in merger

COMBINED EFFORT News that the parties plan to merge came as a surprise to some pan-blue lawmakers, who said the parties should have consulted them first

By Huang Tai-lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Officials from both the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the People First Party (PFP) yesterday confirmed that the two parties are pursuing a merger.

KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) is expected to propose the plan at today's Central Standing Committee meeting.

"It is true that the KMT and the PFP are now working toward a merger," KMT Secretary-General Lin Fong-cheng (林豐正) said.

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) and Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who are both KMT vice chairmen, confirmed yesterday that Lien had informed them about the merger plan a couple of days ago.

Wang said Lien will propose the merger during the party's weekly Central Standing Committee today and that all the party's six vice chairmen will endorse it.

Lin said the merger proposal was not decided by a mere one or two individuals, but was "a response to the mainstream public opinion and repeated calls from the grassroots party members."

"Both parties are now engaged in active negotiation over this matter," Lin said, adding that the proposal is designed to consolidate the resources and strengths of the opposition camp.

favorable outcome

"The two parties will embark on their respective democratic mechanism on this matter to better tackle the issue and to reach an outcome that will fulfill everyone's expectations," Lin said.

The "democratic mechanism" Lin referred to was the KMT's Central Standing Committee and its National Congress.

While stating that there was no timetable set for the merger, Lin said "the sooner the better," adding that the merger would be more meaningful if the deal can be finalized ahead of the year-end legislative elections.

Responding to speculation that the merger would hamper the party's transfer of leadership to a new generation, Lin said that "was only the view of a minority."

PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) met yesterday afternoon with PFP legislators to discuss the merger.

"The KMT now faces its greatest burden ever, and voices from inside the party are calling for an integration of opposition power," said Soong, whose party is a splinter group of the KMT. "The PFP, in view of this, is more than willing to cooperate."

Wang and Ma expressed their support for the merger proposal yesterday.

"The merger is an inevitable trend ... it could boost opposition strength to better supervise the government," Wang said.

But KMT and PFP legislators had a mixed reaction to the plan. Some favored the proposal, while others, annoyed that they had to learn about the merger from media reports rather than the party itself, questioned the party's lack of transparency in decision-making.

KMT Legislator Hsu Chung-hsiung (徐中雄) said that while he supports the merger, the parties should first debate what the merged entity's platform would be.

Hsu also recommended a vote be held in the party on the merger and said that "both Lien and Soong should vow that they will not take on any leadership roles should the merger be realized."

acrimony

Saying that there are a number of party members who dislike the PFP, KMT Legislator Chang Chang-tsai (張昌財) said the merger might lead to party members leaving the KMT.

"I am afraid that the merger plan is one that serves a few individuals' interests and not those of the party as a whole," Chang added.

PFP Legislator Chiu Yi (邱毅) said, "The timing is not ripe for such a merger."

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