Sat, Nov 20, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Heavyweight quits PFP to support DPP

`ALL POLITICS IS LOCAL' The Taitung County Commissioner withdrew from his party so he could back its political rival in next month's legislative elections

By Caroline Hong  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH CNA

Ending weeks of speculation, Taitung County Commissioner Hsu Ching-yuan (徐慶元) formally announced yesterday that he is severing ties with the People First Party (PFP) to give his endorsement to a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate yesterday.

"I am putting politics aside to make Taitung's development my top priority. For these legislative elections, I have decided to support the DPP's candidate for Taitung County in consideration of what is in the best interests of Taitung and for no other reason. [As a result,] I hope that the projects to expand Taitung's Fugang Harbor (富岡港) and widen the Southern Cross-Island Highway (南迴公路) will take place before the eyes of Taitung residents as soon as possible," said Hsu, who was one of the PFP's founding members, yesterday at a press conference.

The central government's support for the two county construction projects have long been cited by Hsu as his condition for helping the DPP in its legislative efforts in Taitung.

"Both of the budgets needed for these two construction projects are too massive for the local government to bear; we need the support of the central government for these projects, both of which will improve Taitung's development for the next 20 to 30 years," Hsu said.

Since his decision to support the DPP's candidate in Taitung County, Hsu Jui-kuei (許瑞貴), goes against the PFP's promise to the KMT to support its two legislative candidates in the area, Hsu announced that he was voluntarily giving up his party membership in the PFP in order not to create difficulties for PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜). He communicated his decision to Soong on Nov. 16, who expressed regret and acceptance, Hsu said. Hsu also said he has no plans to enter the DPP and will instead become an independent.

In response, the PFP released a statement yesterday expressing its regret at Hsu's decision. While reiterating the PFP's long-term support for the "Republic of China," the statement condemned the ruling party for using its "administrative advantages" to "kidnap" the Taitung County commissioner for the DPP's own "selfish election purposes."

While the issue of whether or not the PFP would be forced to take Hsu to task for stumping for its political rival was solved by Hsu's decision to drop out of the party, the controversy has created wide speculation that Miaoli County Commissioner Fu Hsueh-peng (傅學鵬), an independent, will follow suit in supporting the DPP.

Fu and Hsu had been previously identified by the media as political figures the pan-green camp was wooing to endorse its candidates in the year-end legislative elections. Both Taitung and Miaoli counties have traditionally been solid bases of pan-blue support.

Replying to Miaoli county councilors in a meeting yesterday, Fu said that he was willing to stump for any party's candidates, so long as that party supported Miaoli County.

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