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Mon, Mar 20, 2000 - Page 3 News List

Soong sets his sights on formation of new party

POPULAR DEMAND The political maverick said he was just responding to supporters' calls when he announced his intention to launch a new party

By Lauren Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

James Soong at his campaign headquarters on Chinan Road.

PHOTO: CHIANG YING-YING, TAIPEI TIMES

Responding to what he said was requests from his supporters, James Soong (宋楚瑜) announced his intention to form a new party yesterday -- one day after losing his independent bid for the presidency by a narrow margin to the DPP's Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).

With Soong's statement, it is widely believed that a new party in the office would further accelerate the spilt within the KMT.

During a news conference yesterday, Liu Sung-pan (劉松藩), head of Soong's "New Taiwanese Service Team," said the new group will field candidates in the National Assembly election expected in May.

Yet whether there will be a National Assembly election hinges on a constitutional interpretation by the Council of Grand Justices (大法官會議) to be released on Friday.

Despite the lack of detail regarding the new party, pro-Soong legislator Roy Chou (周錫偉) claimed that with the emergence of the new party, the landscape of the Legislative Yuan would undergo a dramatic structural change.

"With 17 legislators already standing on our side, it would be very easy for us to invite another 20 to 30 legislators to join our new party," Chou said.

Liu indirectly confirmed a media report that he has kept close contact with Legislator Shih Ming-te (施明德), the former DPP chairman, who sought cooperation at the legislature from Soong's camp. However, he refused to reveal further details about their discussion.

"As a political party, we [Soong's camp] would seek to cooperate with any party on the basis of collaboration on individual issues," Liu said.

Soong, however, said he was reluctant to see the media dubbed the new party as "Soong's party" or "the party which would be only under Soong's command," saying he has taken this step because of the public's demand.

"I wanted to reiterate that I am not the one who ever expressed a willingness to form a new party. However, I was forced to do so under requests by our supporters," Soong said.

Soong then unveiled a new career plan, saying he would neither return to the KMT nor attempt to gain a position in Chen's cabinet.

"Since I had already decided to team up with our `New Taiwanese Service Team' to establish a new party, I will not try to seek any position in Chen's government," Soong said.

In responding to President Lee Teng-hui's (李登輝) announcement that he will hand over the KMT chairman's post in September, Soong dismissed such a gesture as "headstrong."

"Given the KMT's poor performance in the presidential election, the KMT's high-ranking official should review his mistakes. Why does it take so long -- to wait until September?" Soong said.

"Although I did not want to intervene with the KMT's affairs, given the fact that I was expelled from the KMT last November. But I still hope the KMT could sincerely review its mistakes. If KMT officials still choose to sit idly without trying to make up the party's mistakes, I believe the public will not be satisfied," he said.

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