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Wed, Apr 19, 2000 - Page 3 News List

People First Party caucus lures talent

By Monique Chu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Doubts over whether the People First Party (PFP) can extend its political territory within the Legislative Yuan have been temporarily silenced, as former KMT legislator Wang Tein-ging (王天競) joined the PFP's legislative caucus yesterday.

His acceptance within the new party brings its representation in the legislature, currently the third largest caucus, to 19.

But critics said the newly founded party's objective -- to lure at least 40 legislators to unite under its banner -- will be difficult to achieve in the short term.

Wang, a veteran KMT member of 35 years and a strong representative of the party's constituency of retired soldiers, told reporters yesterday that it was his "disappointment with the prospect of internal reform within the KMT" that drove him to leave the party for the PFP.

Asked if his departure was triggered by concerns of winning the next legislative election -- prospects of which have diminished in the wake of defections from the KMT -- Wang scoffed at the idea.

"I find such a suggestion derogatory," Wang, now serving his fourth term, said.

PFP legislative caucus spokesman Liu Wen-hsiung (劉文雄) said current PFP legislative caucus members unanimously agreed to allow the former KMT legislator, elected from Kaohsiung City, to join.

Liu and his counterparts welcomed Wang during a caucus meeting yesterday.

Liu called Wang "a professional legislator who knows a lot about national defense issues," adding that Wang's entry was "an asset" to the PFP legislative caucus.

PFP legislative caucus rules state that any entry into the group requires the consent of at least half of the existing members. Such regulations, said analysts, were designed to keep out legislators the consensus deems inappropriate.

"It aims to retain the image of the newly founded party as being pure and fresh," said Wu Tung-yeh (吳東野), a political analyst at National Chengchi University.

Although PFP legislators hoped to lure up to 40 others to join them, Wu said uncertainty over the KMT's internal reforms, as well as the development of the new party, would make such an objective impossible to reach -- at least in the short run.

"The PFP's expectations to attract up to 40 legislators were perhaps based on the assumption that the KMT would split soon after its loss in the presidential election, catalyzed by internal disputes over how to reform the party," Wu said.

"But as the KMT is still groping its way toward reform, those legislators with a PFP defection in mind could defer their attempts to jump ship. So it will be difficult for the PFP to attract 40 legislators to join the party in the short run," he added.

Following the establishment of the PFP's legislative caucus on April 7, Wang's defection from the KMT brings to two the number of legislators that have jumped ship. He joins former New Party legislator Lee Ching-hua (李慶華).

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