Fri, Aug 14, 2015 - Page 1 News List

Soong-Yen chat fuels speculation

‘JUMP SHIP’:A meeting between the two veteran politicians added fire to rumors that Yen’s son, a KMT lawmaker, might withdraw from the KMT

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

People First Party Chairman and presidential candidate James Soong, left, yesterday shakes hands with former Non-Partisan Solidarity Union legislator Yen Ching-piao at an event in Kaohsiung.

Photo: Chang Chung-yi, Taipei Times

Speculation that the eldest son of former Non-Partisan Solidarity Union legislator Yen Ching-piao (顏清標) could be the next Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmaker to jump ship intensified yesterday after Yen and People First Party (PFP) presidential candidate James Soong (宋楚瑜) were seen whispering in each other’s ear.

On the sidelines of a memorial for the mother of former Kaohsiung city councilor Lee Jung-tsung (李榮宗) of the PFP in the city yesterday morning, Yen greeted Soong heartily and whispered in his ear twice during the event.

The comments Soong made when asked by reporters to reveal the content of his “little chat” with Yen added to the intrigue.

“We encouraged each other to fight for Taiwan... Yen and I go way back and I will help [his son] Yen Kuan-hen (顏寬恆) defuse many problems,” Soong said.

The brief encounter between the two seasoned politicians is being avidly watched after radio host Clara Chou’s (周玉蔻) claims on Monday that the younger Yen — who is seeking re-election in Taichung’s second electoral district — would be the next after KMT Legislator Cheng Ru-fen (鄭汝芬) to leave the KMT.

If Yen Kuan-hen leaves the KMT or withdraws from the elections, it could further jeopardize the party’s already dismal presidential campaign, as the Yen family has dominated the political scene in Taichung for decades with its strong local ties and network.

Cheng abandoned her legislative candidacy in Changhua County’s third electoral district last month, citing family matters.

However, she is only one of many KMT members who have dropped out of next year’s election or the KMT altogether in what has been termed a “wave of jumping ship.”

KMT Legislator Lee Hung-chun (李鴻鈞), a former PFP member, withdrew his campaign for a seat in New Taipei City and publicly endorsed Soong’s presidential bid earlier this month, but has chosen to remain in the KMT.

His peer, KMT Legislator Chang Chia-chun (張嘉郡), made a similar decision this week.

Unlike them, Taipei City Councilor Lee Ching-yuan (李慶元) and former KMT legislator Chang Sho-wen (張碩文) both left the ruling party and are now representing the PFP in the legislative elections on Jan. 16.

Asked to comment on the wave of KMT members leaving the party, which media commentators said could further cripple the party, Soong did not give a direct response.

He merely stressed his willingness to join hands with other political forces to reinvigorate the spirit of the founding father of the Republic of China, Sun Yat-sen (孫中山), and former president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國).

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