Wed, Nov 05, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Soong attempts to spoil Chen's glory on overseas tour

SOUR GRAPES The PFP leader said that none of the big US newspapers had reported on the trip and Chen's upbeat tone about US ties was wrong

By Huang Tai-lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Opposition leaders continued to attack President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) over his US visit even though the media here -- including normally pro-unification media -- have been praising Chen on his performance.

People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) yesterday criticized Chen's reported "high-level" reception from the US government, describing it as "mere pretense self-directed and performed by Chen."

"No major US newspaper -- including The New York Times, Washington Post and the LA Times -- mentioned a word about Chen's US visit during his stopover there," Soong said at CKS International Airport.

Soong was seeing off his Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) counterpart, Lien Chan (連戰), who was flying to New York to attend a memorial service for former first lady Soong Mayling (蔣宋美齡), who died on Oct. 23.

Lien is the pan-blue camp's presidential candidate for next year's presidential election and Soong is his running mate.

Soong accused Chen of abusing government resources and manipulating Taiwan's media by using his overseas trips to promote his presidential campaign.

"The fact that here in Taiwan there is so much news coverage of Chen's US visit is only because Chen brought scores of Taiwanese reporters with him," Soong said.

Denying that Chen's trip served any diplomatic purpose, Soong said, "All in all, the opposition questions the fairness of it all."

The PFP leader once again said it was inappropriate for Chen to share a dining table with US arms dealers last Friday, when Chen was given an award by the International League for Human Rights for his long-term efforts and achievements in Taiwan's democracy movement.

He urged Chen to be a responsible leader and disputed his rhetoric that the KMT-PFP alliance's actions were "off beat."

"Titanic shows how an accident can happen, and if the captain of a boat navigates the boat too fast it can run into the harbor," Soong said, apparently referring to a ferry disaster in New York harbor last month.

Soong was alluding to remarks made by Chen on Saturday when, during a cruise on the Hudson River, he said that when everyone was on the same boat, everyone should trust the captain rather than question him.

After a two-day stopover in US, Chen arrived in Panama on Sunday to attend the Central American nation's centenary celebrations.

"We would like to call on Chen not to be an irresponsible captain," Soong said.

Soong said that, to avoid a war of words, he and Lien would be willing to hold a debate with Chen on issues concerning the nation's arms purchases and Taiwan's national identity.

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