2012 ELECTIONS: James Soong says he supports eventual unification

Staff Writer, with CNA

Sun, Nov 27, 2011 - Page 1

People First Party (PFP) presidential candidate James Soong (宋楚瑜) said he supports Taiwan’s eventual unification with China because it is enshrined in the Constitution.

“I abide by the Republic of China’s Constitution,” Soong said in an interview with the BBC’s Chinese-language Web site.

Soong said both President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) China policy of “no unification, no independence and no use of force” and Democratic Progressive Party presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) “moving toward separation” from China were unconstitutional.

Along with Ma and Tsai, Soong this week officially registered to run in the Jan. 14 presidential election.

Soong, who has maintained close exchanges with China in recent years, was asked by the BBC if he had notified Beijing before his decision to run in the presidential election.

He said that many political decisions by the PFP and himself have been the result of communications with “a lot of friends,” but that did not mean they are subject to anyone’s influence.

Asked if he has felt any pressure from China regarding his decision to run, Soong only said that “it would be too strong to describe it as pressure.”

He urged Chinese leaders to respect the choice of Taiwanese.

When asked whether he had reneged on his promise to withdraw from politics, he said that had been a personal decision, “not a legal commitment.”

Soong announced his withdrawal from politics after he suffered a humiliating defeat in the 2006 Taipei mayoral election, when he received only 4.14 percent of the votes, compared with the 53.81 percent earned by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) candidate, Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌).

He also said that his decision to leave politics resulted from the strong public support for Ma, and his hope to give Ma a chance to run for the 2008 presidential election.

However, Soong said after nearly four years in office, he could not tell what Ma had accomplished.

Soong said that he registered to run in the presidential election because he was painfully aware that Taiwan had fallen to the bottom of the “four Asian tigers,” and that Ma had not done what he should have done over the past four years.

Asked about the relatively small percentage of Taiwanese who said they would vote for him compared with Ma and Tsai’s support in public opinion polls, Soong said that the polls had not reflected the true will of the public.

He said that more than 30 percent of Taiwanese have yet to voice their support for one candidate or another, and the will of the people would be decided in the final stage of the election.