Sun, Mar 14, 2004 - Page 4 News List

Lien-Soong kneeling act gets mixed reviews

PLANNED?While the pan-blues said the kneeling was pre-planned some commentators thought Soong was trying to upstage Lien as part of an ongoing power struggle

By Debby Wu  /  STAFF REOPORTER

Opinions were mixed yesterday over the kneeling in public of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) at the "313 Rally."

First Soong knelt with his wife at a rally in Taichung. Shortly after Lien and his wife prostrated themselves at a rally in Taipei.

It was the third time Soong has knelt in public, while it was Lien's first performance. Lien, however, stole the show.

"It is a very touching scene," KMT Legislator Apollo Chen (陳學聖) said. Chen who participated in the rally said he had not known about the act beforehand, and only saw it on TV afterwards.

Emile Sheng (盛治仁), an associate professor of political science at Soochow University, said that the kneeling might be positive for the pan-blue camp, and was the most important moment in the rally.

"If the kneeling today was just Soong again it might have had a negative effect. But this time Lien and Soong both knelt down to kiss the earth, and the meaning becomes different," Sheng said.

"Lien and Soong's show of their love for Taiwan is not less than the pan-green camp supporters', and counters the pan-green camp's appeal in the `228 Hand-in-hand rally.' I believe the act was pre-planned, and that they may have moved pan-blue supporters."

Meanwhile Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明), a political analyst and an assistant fellow of politics at Academia Sinica, thought that Lien's kneeling was, in fact, impromptu damage control.

"If it had only been Soong who knelt, then it would have brought negative effects. But Lien's prostrating himself made Soong's act not so prominent," he said.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) politicians showed contempt for the pan-blue ticket's double act.

"Soong kneeling before Lien showed again that he was trying to capture the limelight, to obtain more political clout in preparation for a post-election power struggle," DPP campaign spokesman Wu Nai-jen (吳乃仁) said.

"He has been trying to obtain more power even before the election takes place, and this kind of act cannot get the voters' trust," he said.

Soong's first public kneeling happened on Dec. 5, 2002 during the Taipei mayoral election campaign. He knelt down at a campaign rally in Taipei's Ta-an Forest Park in the evening, asking the voters to give Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) a second term.

He knelt again about one year later, on Nov. 9, 2003, when he visited Yunlin County Commissioner Chang Jung-wei (張榮味) in Yunlin.

Soong got emotional and knelt down after he talked with Chang about a water-resources budget cut by the central government.

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