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Sat, Aug 25, 2001 - Page 3 News List

PFP quitting three key election races

PULLING OUT Chairman James Soong says his party's candidates won't feature in the Taipei and Kaohsiung county commissioner and Keelung mayoral elections

By Stephanie Low  /  STAFF REPORTER

People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) yesterday announced his party's decision to withdraw from the elections for Taipei County and Kaohsiung County commissioners and Keelung mayor.

The announcement came one day after Soong's meeting with KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰), during which they failed to finally resolve the two parties' plans to cooperate in the local government elections.

"We don't fight battles that we aren't sure of winning. More importantly, we understand that we need to make some strategic adjustments to our campaign planning and concentrate on the legislative elections," Soong said.

For Taipei and Kaohsiung counties, there was originally an agreement between Lien and Soong that the KMT would support the PFP candidates.

But the KMT nominated lawmaker Lin Jih-jia (林志嘉) late last month for Taipei County commissioner, after former Minister of Justice Liao Cheng-hao (廖正豪), a candidate favored by the PFP, refused to run. The PFP early this month nominated Chin Chin-sheng (秦金生), its deputy secretary-general, for the race.

For the Kaohsiung County race, the PFP has nominated lawmaker Chung Shao-ho (鍾紹和), but the KMT is prepared to nominate its own candidate, whom the KMT believes is more likely than Chung to win.

A few weeks ago, Chin, who has lagged behind all other Taipei County candidates in public polls, hinted that he would quit the Taipei County race in exchange for the KMT's support for Chung's candidacy in Kaohsiung County.

Unnamed sources from the PFP said that Soong made the decision to quit the Taipei County and Kaohsiung County races after Lien, during their Thursday meeting, still could not commit to support the PFP in Kaohsiung County.

"Chairman Lien was very sincere and had promised to support the PFP fully in these few localities. But since there are difficulties, it is unnecessary for us to haggle over this issue any more," Soong said yesterday.

Soong said that the PFP will continue to take part in the commissioner elections in Nantou, Hualien, Lienchiang, Kinmen, Taitung and Changhua counties, where the PFP has also nominated its own candidates.

Apparently taken by surprise, Chao Shou-po (趙守博), director-general of the KMT's Organization and Development Committee, said the KMT will closely monitor the PFP's subsequent moves to get a clearer picture of its campaign strategy.

Chao said it is still too early to judge the future cooperation plans between the two parties.

Lien on Thursday said there remained "possibilities" for cooperation, despite failure to find common ground at this point.

Observers from the DPP yesterday said the PFP's decision to quit the Taipei County and Kaohsiung County races was a "clever plot" to pave the way for Soong's presidential bid.

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