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Sun, Mar 12, 2000 - Page 3 News List

Lien's march rocks, Soong rally falls flat

RALLYING SUPPORT The KMT's candidate, Lien Chan, attended a large march through the streets of Taipei, while independent candidate James Soong's rally in Taoyuan failed to draw the numbers his camp hoped for

STAFF WRITER

The campaign focus for the KMT's Lien Chan (連戰) and independent candidate James Soong (宋楚瑜) was on northern Taiwan yesterday, with Lien holding a parade and rally in Taipei and Soong working the crowds in Taoyuan.

Yesterday, Lien's camp staged a rally in Taipei that campaign officials claimed attracted over 100,000 participants. The marchers gathered at the Taipei City Government plaza and the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall at around 3pm under a steady rain. Lien, who was broadcasting a platform presentation on TV at the time, joined the parade later.

The parade moved to the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, for a rock-and-roll concert organized by Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) staffers.

Tension ran high among supporters when the parade passed Soong's campaign headquarters on Jenai Road, but no incidents were reported.

Answering accusations that government ministries handed out NT$300 per head to employees and promised them a day off to make up for participating in the parade, Lien's spokesperson, Chu Li-lun (朱立倫), said government agencies should remain neutral during the campaign, but that they cannot prevent people from attending of their own will.

At the concert, emceed by a lineup of popular entertainers to attract young voters Lien joined a singalong of a Credence Clearwater Revival -- a 1960's folk rock band -- tune with running mate Vincent Siew (蕭萬長), Ma Ying-jeou and campaign manager Jason Hu (胡志強). Trying hard to appear hip, the KMT figureheads all wore brown leather jackets and blue jeans and danced energetically on stage.

Meanwhile, the turnout at Soong's rally in Taoyuan County's sports stadium fell short of expectations, leading some analysts to remark that Academia Sinica president Lee Yuan-tseh's (李遠哲) endorsement of the DPP's Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) had definitely had an impression on the race.

Soong's running mate Chang Chao-hsiung (張昭雄) made an appeal to "dump-Lien-to-save-Soong," saying Lee's move showed Lien is no longer capable of winning the race.

At the rally, New Party legislator Hsieh Chi-ta (謝啟大) slammed Lee for misjudging her investigation report on Soong's financial scandal. Meanwhile, Soong took aim at Lien for what he called government inefficiency and corruption under his leadership, including disaster relief and reconstruction. "If the provincial government team were still in place now, much fewer people would have died," Soong said.

The independent candidate also tried to repair some of the damage inflicted on his campaign through the ongoing financial scandal that surrounds him. Soong said his son had sold three houses in the US that have been cited in the scandal as being paid for by embezzled KMT party funds. Half the money from the sales, he said, would go to his campaign, while the other half will go to victims of the 921 earthquake.

He also made assurances that neither his daughter-in-law, nor his granddaughter are bearers of US passports, which the DPP had alleged earlier in the week.

Soong also asked voters to "rediscover the KMT's true soul." Soong also lashed out at Chen's pro-independence image.

Both the KMT and DPP campaigns are scheduled to hold parades in Keelung City today.

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