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Sat, Apr 14, 2001 - Page 3 News List

New Party slams PFP over poaching of its members

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER

New Party leaders yesterday strongly expressed their anger with the People First Party (PFP), alleging that the party was trying to take over the New Party to win more seats in the year-end elections.

After Feng Ting-kuo (馮定國), a New Party lawmaker from Taichung County, announced he was joining the PFP on Thursday, high-ranking PFP officials revealed yesterday that the party's chairman, James Soong (宋楚瑜), had already suggested inviting a few New Party heavyweights to represent his party in the legislative election.

"Soong expects to nominate the New Party's former convener, Wang Chien-shien (王建火宣), former New Party lawmaker Chou Yang-shang (周陽山) and senior member Kao Shin-wu (高新武) as PFP legislative candidates," a PFP legislator who refused to be named said yesterday, "and he told current New Party convener, Hsieh Chi-ta (謝啟大), about his idea last week."

Hsieh, however, said in answer to reporters' questions yesterday that she believed all three politicians would decline Soong's invitation.

"Wang and Kao are both founding members of the New Party, and Chou has already registered to receive our party's nomination," Hsieh said, "and their loyalty will prove that the party has the ability to continue its political life."

Other New Party leaders yesterday severely attacked Feng for leaving and warned the PFP not to continue trying to poach the New Party's elite into its ranks.

"Feng wants to sell the party out for his own personal interests. We appeal to the PFP not to nominate such a person and we hope that Feng will lose the election," New Party Taipei City councilor Lee Ching-yuan (李慶元) said in a statement, read on behalf of all New Party councilors.

Wang also issued a news release last night saying that Soong's remarks not only severely hurt the New Party but also insulted him.

"A positive contest between all political parties is good for Taiwan's democracy," Wang said in the news release, "and therefore any intention to cause the New Party to disappear [by merging it with the PFP] is immoral."

"I am not sure what James Soong meant by his invitation to New Party leaders," Wang said. "Does he want to eliminate the New Party? I hope Soong can exercise more justice than trickery."

Wang wrote a private letter to Feng in which he said that Feng's behavior was worse than that of a dog.

The PFP, however, denied that its party chairman had made any deal with Hsieh or even expressed such an intent in private.

"We welcome anybody who wants to join us. But the nomination procedure is fair and does not favor people who defect from other political parties," said PFP spokesman Liao Tsang-sung (廖蒼松).

The New Party's influence has gradually declined since its poor showing in the 1998 legislative election. Analysts say that with only nine seats in the legislature, the party faces the prospect of a PFP merger or takeover.

Hsieh vowed the party would make a good showing in the election.

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