Thu, Jul 17, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Soong moves to court KMT's leaders

CEMENTING BONDS The PFP chairman returned to the headquarters of his old party to meet Lien after trying to patch up relations with the legislative speaker

By Sandy Huang and Fiona Lu  /  STAFF REPORTERS

PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) last night visited KMT headquarters for the first time since he was expelled from the party four years ago.

He last entered the building on July 16, 1999.

"I don't take the timing as a coincidence. Instead, I believe this is [KMT] Chairman Lien [Chan's (連戰)] thoughtful arrangement," he said.

Soong, a former KMT secretary-general and the first elected provincial governor of Taiwan, split from the KMT when he decided to run against Lien in the 2000 presidential election.

The two rivals reconciled in February to form a joint presidential ticket for next year's election.

"I never regretted my decision to leave the KMT since I realized that a gap of perception existed between the party leader at that time and reality," Soong told reporters.

Earlier yesterday, amid rumors of a planned PFP revolt against legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), Soong visited Wang to praise him for his work during a special session last week.

"The purpose of the visit is for the PFP to sincerely express its recognition of Wang's hard work in his role as the legislative speaker during the extraordinary session," said Soong, who led a group of PFP legislators to Wang's home yesterday afternoon.

"Given Taiwan's complicated political climate, no one can top Wang as a legislative speaker who can simultaneously win respect from both the ruling and opposition parties," Soong said.

Tension erupted between the PFP and Wang last Thursday when Wang closed the three-day extraordinary session before the legislature had a chance to consider DPP Legislator Trong Chai's (蔡同榮) version of the referendum bill.

As well as the referendum legislation, the session also considered six economic bills, four of which were passed.

Wang drew fire from KMT Legislator Wang Chung-yu (王鍾渝) and PFP legislative caucus whip Chiu Yi (邱毅), who accused him of conspiring with the pan-green camp in delaying the passage of the referendum law.

It was following this altercation that rumors began circulating that Chiu and the director of the PFP's Center of Policy Research, Chang Hsien-yao (張顯耀), had wanted to launch a campaign to remove Wang from his post.

During yesterday's visit, Soong assured Wang that the rumors were not true.

Wang reiterated that he abandoned review of the referendum legislation in accordance with legislative procedure.

He nevertheless said he appreciated Soong's visit and stressed the importance of mutual respect now that the KMT and the PFP have formed a political alliance for next year's presidential election.

"I hope that both parties can convert our mutual respect for each other into substantive actions.

"Otherwise, it will be easy for outsiders to sow discord within the pan-blue camp," Wang said.

Chang accompanied Soong to visit Wang, but Chiu refused to join the group.

"I can't get over the fact that Wang not only refused to accept my calls when I attempted to reach him to explain myself, but he has also mobilized his supporters in Kaohsiung County to protest on his behalf," Chiu said.

Chiu said he planned to return to his constituency in Kaohsiung City to mobilize support against Wang.

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