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Sat, Feb 26, 2000 - Page 3 News List

Soong welcomes KMT defector into his camp hoping to boost Hakka vote

By Lauren Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

Independent presidential candidate James Soong (宋楚瑜) played the Hakka card yesterday by inviting Minister without Portfolio David Chung (鍾榮吉) to join his camp.

Chung, who is of Hakka heritage, on Thursday announced his decision to resign his post and withdraw from the KMT.

Soong said he understood that Chung's remarks in his resignation statement reflected what was on many voters' minds.

In a written resignation statement, Chung said the KMT was "casting right and wrong aside" and characterized the presidential election as "just a prolonged battlefield in the KMT's internal power struggle.''

Soong echoed Chung's remarks by saying that some high-ranking KMT officials had cut themselves off from grassroots opinions.

"I have come to understand that the KMT is not only facing difficult challenges now, but that there is also a huge gap between top party officials and local communities,'' Soong said.

Using the issue of the preservation of Hakka culture as an example, Soong said that the KMT only speaks of the issue "reluctantly" and then only when election time approaches.

Soong said that while he did not have a chance to meet with Chung yesterday, he looks forward to working with him in the future.

Soong campaign officials said that if Chung joins their camp, they believe that Chung, Miaoli County Magistrate Fu Hsueh-peng (傅學鵬) and former Hsinchu County Magistrate Chen Cheng-shin (陳進興) could form a "super golden triangle" for the Soong campaign. Fu and Chen are also of Hakka heritage.

According to government statistics, Hakkas account for around 12 percent of the 15 million eligible voters nationwide.

In related news, Soong visited several earthquake-stricken areas of Nantou County yesterday, where heavy rains have caused landslides and flooding.

He donated NT$100,000 to help local irrigation workers in Nantou County prepare for future rainstorms and proposed setting up a Cabinet-level special committee to handle recent storm-related problems and coordinate government functions.

"Although at the moment I don't have any official title and therefore cannot do very much to help in the relief efforts, I promise you I will offer you better treatment in the future,'' Soong said to those who have suffered from the recent storms.

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