Mon, Jan 17, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Soong rebuffs idea of joining forces with DPP

NO COALITION Soong said he would not form an alliance with the DPP, and that he supported Wang Jin-pyng's bid for the legislative speakership

By Charles Snyder  /  STAFF REPORTER IN WASHINGTON , WITH STAFF WRITER

People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) has rejected the idea of his party forming a coalition government with the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) with him as premier.

Soong made his comments during a press conference in Washington with the Taiwan press corps and in questions afterwards.

"I have no intention whatsoever to form a so-called coalition with any party," Soong said.

As for the possibility of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) naming him as premier, Soong said that "nobody has said anything to me about that."

While not firmly ruling out the possibility, he called such an idea "not only hypothetical, but also not practical."

He said he has not spoken with Chen about the issue.

At the press conference, Soong also expressed his support for Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Vice Chairman Wang Jin-pyng's (王金平) re-election bid for Legislative Speaker.

The PFP is willing to give their support to Wang, Soong said.

However, given that members of his own party have expressed an interest in running for Deputy Legislative Speaker, Soong said that he would respect his party's members in his views on suitable candidates for that post.

Soong also denied on Saturday speculation that he was slated to become the head of the administration's proposed Committee for Cross-Strait Peace and Development (兩岸和平發展委員會).

It is unclear what the functions of the committee are to be, Soong said, while emphasizing that he is not interested in any government position and that he had not been approached in the US by any DPP figures, ostensibly to discuss such arrangements.

Soong spoke with reporters during a visit in Washington after a long vacation in San Francisco. The Washington stopover was arranged at the last minute, and Soong's itinerary and whereabouts were kept secret until the KMT-PFP office in Washington called reporters to an unusual Saturday morning press session.

In Washington, Soong is believed to have spoken with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific, Randall Schriver, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Richard Lawless, on issues such as Taiwan's purchase of US arms, cross-strait relations, China's planned anti-secession law and domestic Taiwan politics.

He also met with old friends from his university days in Washington, including his professor at Georgetown University, former US Ambassador to the UN Jeane Kirkpatrick.

On his position toward relations between the DPP and the PFP, Soong reiterated that his party's role would be that of a "balancer."

"We will do everything possible to help the incumbent president and the ruling party to stabilize the political situation in Taiwan. In other words, the role we're going to play basically is balancing.

"We want to help correct the arrogance of power and help correct their mistaken direction, or try to help them to readjust their direction," he said.

Nevertheless, he said, "we do not have any intention of actually forming a coalition with the DPP."

On the question of US arms sales, Soong said he told the US officials -- without mentioning names -- that Taiwan should enact an "appropriate" arms budget and not one of a size and cost dictated by Washington.

He also said he told US officials that Taiwan should have the democratic right to choose its own level of defense spending.

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