Sat, Sep 03, 2011 - Page 1 News List

Soong-Shih bid just speculation, PFP official says

IN THE RUNNING?Lee Teng-hui denied being the facilitator of a Soong-Shih presidential ticket and questioned the motive of whoever started the rumor

By Mo Yan-chih and Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporters

The People First Party (PFP) yesterday dismissed speculation that its chairman, James Soong (宋楚瑜), would pair up with former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Shih Ming-teh (施明德) in the presidential election, saying Soong did not touch on the issue of the vice presidency when seeking advice from Shih and others.

On Thursday, Soong said he could collect 1 million signatures on a petition and had enough financial support. The announcement sparked speculation in the media that Soong was seeking to cooperate with Shih and that former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) had helped persuade Shih to serve as Soong’s running mate.

PFP Secretary-General Chin Ching-sheng (秦金生) yesterday brushed aside the speculation, saying Soong had only been discussing policies with various politicians and academics.

“The vice presidential candidate is not an issue now. Mr Shih is a popular figure, but finalizing the choice of a running mate is not the top priority for Chairman Soong. The issue did not come up when Soong visited politicians and academics to discuss policies,” he said.

Chin confirmed that Soong, 69, had considered teaming up with PFP Vice Chairman Chang Chao-hsiung (張昭雄), but he said that Soong would not finalize his choice of running mate at this time.

Soong’s possible presidential bid would become a reality if the petition collected at least 1 million signatures and the election campaign attracted enough financial support, Chin said.

The Central Election Commission (CEC) said the number of signatures required to qualify for registration as a presidential candidate is 257,695.

Chin said the PFP was still willing to cooperate with the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) in January’s legislative and presidential elections.

“The door for KMT-PFP cooperation is still open,” he said.

The KMT has maintained a low-key response to Soong’s potential presidential bid in an effort to avoid discussion of a possible pan-blue split.

KMT spokesperson Lai Su-ju (賴素如) said the party respected the PFP’s decision and declined to comment further.

Shih also denied the possibility of a Soong-Shih ticket, while Lee denied having been a facilitator for such a ticket.

Lee said he had not met with Soong for a long time and that the speculation was “a painstaking manipulation by people with a specific agenda.”

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said that participation in politics is a civil right protected by the Constitution.

“It looks to me more like an internal division of the pan-blue camp,” the DPP presidential candidate said, adding that “elections should be more than a prolongation of someone’s political career or a power struggle.”

Tsai urged voters and the media to “go back and focus on the essence of elections” — how to improve people’s lives by making policies and implementing them — rather than dwelling on political issues, such as who will run in the presidential election and who will be their running mate.

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