Thu, May 22, 2003 - Page 4 News List

Alliance plans by-election strategy

JOSTLING FOR POSITION The KMT-PFP alliance sees the Hualien County commissioner's by-election as a vital test of its strength before the presidential election

By Sandy Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) yesterday met with his PFP counterpart James Soong (宋楚瑜) to discuss matters concerning the KMT-PFP alliance's candidate to run for the Hualien County commissioner post.

The post was left vacant by KMT incumbent, Chang fu-hsiung (張福興), who died of lung cancer last Sunday.

"Basically both the KMT and the PFP had reached the conclusion to together nominate one candidate for the by-election in Hualien," PFP spokesman Hwang Yih-jiau (黃義交) said.

He added that the meeting between Soong and Lien yesterday was just part of the alliance's routine meetings.

"However, to show our respect for Chang, the alliance will not announce our candidate till the end of this month, after Chang's funeral," Hwang said.

Chang was diagnosed with lung cancer late last year and had been undergoing chemotherapy at the Veteran's General Hospital since March.

He was rushed home last Sunday night from the National Taiwan University Hospital after his condition became critical. Chang died at home.

According to the Law on Local Government Systems (地方制度法), an election has to be held within three months after the death of an elected local government official if the remaining tenure of the official is more than two years.

Chang, who started his four-year tenure in December 2001, had 31 more months left before the end of his term.

Premier Yu Shyi-kun announced on Tuesday that Provincial Governor Fan Kuang-chun (范光群) will serve as acting commissioner of Hualien County until a new government chief is elected.

As both the pan-green and the pan-blue camps are vying for the vacant post, the by-election can be seen as a crucial skirmish for the KMT-PFP alliance in the run-up to next March's presidential election.

The by-election in Hualien will test the combined vote-pulling strength of the two opposition parties, which announced their alliance three months ago.

Yesterday's meeting took place at the KMT-owned Pate Building -- the alliance's designated campaign headquarters for next year's presidential election for which Lien and Soong will run on a single ticket.

Aside from issues concerning the Hualien County magistrate's election, Hwang said that other matters discussed during the meeting included extending the Legislative Yuan session in order to pass the NT$50 billion job-creation program proposed by the Cabinet.

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