Mon, Nov 10, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Soong gets on his knees for Yunlin county commissioner

STAFF WRITER

PFP Chairman James Soong kneels before Yunlin County Commissioner Chang Jung-wei at a banquet in Yunlin yesterday. Soong criticized the central government for cutting a water-resources budget to the county.

PHOTO: CHUANG YU-FENG, TAIPEI TIMES

People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) knelt before Yunlin County Commissioner Chang Jung-wei (張榮味) during a banquet with local politicians in Yunlin yesterday, the Chinese-language media reported.

The report said Soong fell to his knees before Chang when the conversation came to a water-resources budget slashed by the central government, but it did not say whether Soong was asking or apologizing to Chang for something. Apparently stricken with grief, Soong criticized the budget cut as a shameful act, the report said.

Both the blue and green camps are wooing the independent Chang's support in next year's presidential election.

Chang is a former member of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) but was expelled from the party in 1997 for running in the commissioner's election in defiance of party orders. Chang has since built a formidable power base in Yunlin.

Commenting on Soong's kneeling down, a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) official said yesterday that Soong was at his wits end.

"Since the most recent poll showed the DPP's support rate is on the rise, while the Lien-Soong ticket's support rate is suffering, Soong's falling on his knees simply showed that he was at his wits end," DPP deputy secretary-general Lee Chin-yung (李進勇) said at a press conference yesterday.

Gao Jyh-peng (高志鵬), a member of the DPP Central Standing Committee and a legislator, said Soong's unexpected move was a disgrace.

"Facing mounting calls for Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to replace Soong as KMT Chairman Lien Chan's (連戰) running mate next year, whether Soong's kneeling down was an appeal for Chang's support in next year's election or aimed to save his status as Lien's vice presidential candidate, it is a disgrace," Gao said.

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