Sat, Oct 21, 2006 - Page 1 News List

KMT denies election split with PFP

RUPTURE?While the KMT said it would keep trying to dissuade James Soong from running for mayor, a PFP lawmaker said 'we don't give a damn' about pan-blue split

By Mo Yan-chih and Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTERS

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday denied having a problematic relationship with the People First Party (PFP), and vowed to continue negotiating with its pan-blue ally on the upcoming Taipei mayoral election.

Speculation about a rupture in relations between the two parties mounted as PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) registered as an independent Taipei mayoral candidate on Thursday, while KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) reportedly told the press that negotiations with the PFP to field only one candidate were not going smoothly because "they are not satisfied with some of the conditions."

Seeking Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng's (王金平) assistance in stabilizing KMT-PFP relations, Ma yesterday declined to confirm what the "conditions" were, but insisted that the two parties would continue negotiations.

"We will not give up the negotiation efforts. ... We hope that Speaker Wang would help us, because we believe that room for negotiations has to be created, it does not fall from the sky," Ma said after meeting with Wang in the speaker's residence.

Although Ma has insisted that his party will keep up negotiations with the PFP until the last minute, he left little room for discussion by saying that the KMT would not comply with the PFP's request to dissuade its mayoral candidate, Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌), from running.

"The KMT has already nominated a candidate, and we can't ask him to withdraw," Ma said.

KMT Spokesman Huang Yu-cheng (黃玉振) denied that the party was trying to dissuade Soong from running in the election.

Huang also denied that Soong had promised to support Ma in the 2008 presidential election in exchange for his representing the pan-blue camp in the Taipei mayoral election.

"At his book-release party [last week], Soong made it clear that he would not run in the 2008 presidential election," Huang said.

Huang said the KMT was still seeking ways to focus pan-blue votes on one candidate, instead of splitting the support base in three.

PFP lawmakers yesterday said that they would back Soong's mayoral bid at all costs, even if this meant dividing the pan-blue camp.

"We don't give a damn about whether the pan-blue camp could split. The KMT can't always think that it's natural and right for the PFP to give in to its demands," PFP Legislator Hwang Yih-jiau (黃義交) said.

"If Soong winning the Taipei mayoral election is beneficial to the country and the public, I don't see the reason why a division within the pan-blue camp would be unacceptable," he added.

After learning of the KMT spokesman's clarification of Ma's remarks, Soong said that he "accepted" the clarification, but insisted that he would not yield.

"I met with Chairman Ma four times since April 2, which was the first time I spoke of my bid for the election. The last time we met [last Saturday], I told him I would declare my candidacy on the 17th [of October]. My bid was not his main concern. All we discussed was the arms deal," Soong said.

The PFP chairman also denied that he had proposed a bargain in return for his renouncing his mayoral election bid.

"I am curious about what the KMT thinks it has to offer me. It's ridiculous. Would it give me the position of president, vice president or premier?" Soong asked.

He said that he was only interested in canvassing votes in Taipei, and whether the KMT's Hau would support his candidacy was not his concern.

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