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Fri, Dec 28, 2001 - Page 3 News List

Lee Teng-hui seeks KMT legislators

By Lin Mei-chun  /  STAFF REPORTER

Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) hopes to improve the fortunes of the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) by recruiting KMT legislators who failed to retain their seats in the Dec. 1 election.

If Lee's attempts prove successful, the KMT -- dealt a serious blow in the elections -- might suffer from a mass departure in February when the new legislative session begins.

Lee Shan-ren (李先仁), a KMT lawmaker who lost his election bid on Dec. 1, confirmed that the TSU spiritual leader met with KMT members, asking them to join the TSU or Taiwan Advocates (群策會) -- a cross-party think tank chaired by the former president.

"[Lee] has been very concerned about our future [after our defeat in the election]. He told us that if we are interested, we can join the Taiwan Advocates or the TSU," Lee Shan-ren said.

Lee said that, besides himself, pro-localization KMT lawmaker Chen Horng-chi (陳鴻基) and former independent lawmaker Lin Jih-chia (林志嘉), a former KMT member, were also at the meeting.

On Wednesday Lin announced that he would join the TSU and will act as the party's deputy secretary general, while Chen and Lee Shan-ren say they have yet to make a decision because they are still KMT members.

Lee Shan-ren said he will first join Taiwan Advocates, a non-political group, next month.

The outgoing KMT lawmaker added that the TSU has been actively approaching lawmakers of all political affiliations asking them to join the party in the hope of broadening the TSU's political influence.

Reports said that Lee Teng-hui will meet with more KMT lawmakers in the near future.

Lin's joining the TSU and Lee Shan-ren's future participation in Taiwan Advocates suggests a possible exodus of pro-localization KMT members is imminent.

"There will be many more to come," Lee Teng-hui told the media on Wednesday after meeting with Lin at TSU headquarters.

Shu Chin-chiang (蘇進強), TSU secretary general, said the party welcomes whoever shares its political ideals.

"It is like embracing children who had gone astray and then returned home," said Shu, commenting on Lin's change of allegiance.

Facing a possible mass departure of party members, KMT spokesman Justin Chou (周守訓) said that the party feels regret over the matter but "will not try to keep them by offering them any perks."

Chou stated that the party has been expediting its pace of reform since the elections and will regret the loss should some of its members choose to leave over disagreements about the changing nature of the party.

"But it wouldn't be such a bad thing if these people [intending to leave] are really black sheep who have been hiding in the party," he said.

"Whatever the reasons for their departure, the KMT will not offer any privileges in order to keep them, because one can tell true friends only in times of trouble. ... If they want to go, let them go."

The KMT, struggling with the issue of localization, was routed in the Dec. 1 elections. It lost its five-decade grip on the legislature, taking only 68 of the 225 seats being contested. Before the election, the party held 110 and controlled the body.

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