Soong to start election signature drive

PRESIDENTIAL RUN::PFP Chairman James Soong said he would not join the election unless he collected at least 1 million signatures and had enough financial support

By Mo Yan-chih  /  Staff Reporter

Fri, Sep 02, 2011 - Page 1

People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) yesterday said he would register with the Central Election Commission next month and launch a petition to collect the required number of signatures for presidential aspirants.

In an interview with ERA TV last night, Soong said he would pick up the petition form at the commission between Sept. 16 and Sept. 20 and start collecting signatures from supporters on Sept. 22. However, he refused to confirm whether this would be an indication that he was “determined” to run for president.

The number of signatures required to qualify for registration as a presidential candidate is 250,000. Soong, 69, said he would not join the election unless he collects at least 1 million signatures.

“If we successfully collected 1 million signatures, and with proper financial support, of course I would consider serving the people and meet their expectations [by running for president],” he said.

“Launching the petition is an indication of my willingness to run for the presidency, as it is part of the procedure to obtain an admission ticket to the presidential election ... It would be a great encouragement for me if we collected 1 million signatures, and it would be more likely that I would join the presidential election,” he said.

PFP spokesman Wu Kun-yu (吳崑玉) said the signature drive would last 45 days, and Soong would make a final decision depending on the result of the signature drive.

Soong, the only elected governor of Taiwan Province from 1994 to 1998, talked about his experience as a governor in handling typhoons and other disasters.

He said the government needed re-engineering to improve its efficiency and called on President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to stop focusing on cross-strait ideology in their election campaigns.

Soong and the PFP were a close ally of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) until conflict between the two parties over election nominations led to a split, which deepened after King Pu-tsung (金溥聰), executive director of Ma’s re-election campaign office, filed a lawsuit against Soong in November last year for accusing King of manipulating the presidential elections by fabricating polls in 2000 and 2004.

King declined to comment on Soong’s potential bid, saying any comments he made could spark disputes and cause misunderstandings.

DPP spokesman Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said his party respected Soong’s decision to run in the presidential race.

Ma and King have no one else to blame but themselves on the division of the pan-blue camp, Chen said.

Additional reporting by Chris Wang