Mon, Oct 04, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Soong stands firm on waiting to merge

By Caroline Hong  /  STAFF REPORTER

In the face of growing skepticism about the chances for the proposed pan-blue merger, People First Party (PFP) politicians sought to reassure voters that the merger is still on although party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) yesterday reiterated his stance that the merger should take place after the legislative elections.

Meanwhile, a PFP legislator initiated a lawmakers' signature drive supporting Soong's proposal.

While many members support an earlier merger in the interest of the December elections, Soong said, the parties' focus on the timing of the merger was detracting from the attention that should be spent on the campaign.

"Winning over half the seats in the legislature for the blue camp in the year-end elections is not dependent on a merger. Each party should strike out for itself. If the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), New Party, PFP and independent candidates all win, then the blue camp will still have a majority," Soong said in Tainan yesterday.

Even though the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) parties are allies, no one sees them talking about merging, Soong said.

The merger is unlikely to occur before the elections, since the KMT must first resolve differences within its own ranks before the PFP will consider merging with it, Soong said.

In response to recent comments by KMT elders that Soong has been a barrier to the merger's success, Soong said that there was no point to a merger if the parties could not work out a new collective vision and framework for the resultant party.

"The elders keep criticizing me and the PFP. Why don't they say anything about the people in their own party that support Taiwan's independence? Or about the people that support dropping the `one China' policy?" Soong asked yesterday.

However, if the KMT can propose a viable framework for the merger before the elections, Soong said he does not object to an earlier merger.

Soong's calls for a post-election merger received support from PFP Legislator Feng Ting-kuo (馮定國) yesterday, when Feng announced that he had submitted a statement of intent about the merger to the PFP leadership for approval several days ago.

According to the agreement, as written by Feng, all those who sign must support the merging of the KMT, PFP and New Party by Feb. 1, and the resultant party will retain the KMT name.

"We want to establish a brand-new party, which will bring a new vision to the people: peaceful cross-strait relations, financial prosperity and down-to-earth politics. We will draw a clear line between us and the ethnic discrimination, financial corruption and cross-strait enmity supported by Lee Teng-hui (李登輝)," the statement read.

"I decided to propose this statement to reassure pan-blue supporters that the merger is going to happen," Feng said.

The point of the agreement is to curtail debate about the merger, allowing the parties to refocus on the legislative elections, Feng said.

The statement contained an ominous and vague threat for PFP members that do not sign the agreement, however.

"If the agreement is accepted and supported by the party, then it's up to the party to deal with those who do not sign the agreement," Feng said.

He has already received "positive feedback" from the PFP leadership about the statement and believes that there are no barriers to its usage, Feng said.

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