Sun, Apr 04, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Faction tiring of pan-blue protests

LOSING PATIENCE Several legislators failed to attend yesterday's demonstration, citing prior engagements. But observers ascribe this to internal party conflicts

By Huang Tai-lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

The absence of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) from the pan-blue camp's demonstration yesterday added to the mounting buzz that the pro-localization faction within the KMT is getting tired of the recent protests, which have largely been driven by People First Party (PFP) hard-liners.

Many pan-blue supporters consider Wang, a seasoned politician from Kaohsiung County, to be the key representative of the KMT's pro-localization faction. He is largely regarded as one of the pan-blue camp's four most prominent heavyweights, along with KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰), PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) and Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九). Wang is one of the KMT's vice chairmen, as well as the chief campaign manager of the KMT-PFP alliance's campaign headquarters.

Although Wang's reason for not attending yesterday's demonstration -- where Lien, Soong and Ma addressed the crowd at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall -- was that he had a prior commitment outside Taipei, some legislators have offered different explanations.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chen Chin-jun (陳景峻) said that there must be some other significant reason why Wang did not take part in the protest.

"The pressure on Wang is understandable, given his relations with former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝)" Chen said.

Wang's pro-localization image stance led to him maintaining amicable relations with Lee.

"Wang also shoulders pressure from his supporters in the south, where people are known for their pro-localization support," Chen said.

Wang was not the only member of the KMT's pro-localization faction who failed to attend the demonstration. Legislators Chen Hung-chang (陳宏昌), Hsu Shu-po (許舒博) and Kuo Tien-tsai (郭添財) also cited prior engagements.

While stressing their loyalty to the KMT, several members of the party's pro-localization faction have expressed disapproval over the extended demonstrations staged by the alliance.

"The demonstrations have been carrying on for more than a week. The general public should be well-informed about our appeals by now," Chen Hung-chang said. "The alliance should leave now while everything is still looking good."

The KMT-PFP alliance have been organizing demonstrations at the Presidential Office since March 21 following the narrow defeat of the joint Lien-Soong ticket.

Protesters relocated to the memorial a week ago to continue what the alliance claimed would be a "long-term protest" until their demands were met for a recount and independent investigations into the attack on President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), as well as the activation of the national security mechanism following the attack.

Among the pan-blue politicians taking turns addressing the protesters, PFP legislators spent noticeably more time behind the microphone. The KMT's pro-localization members kept a relatively low profile.

"Continuing to drag out the demonstrations will have an affect on the party's outlook in the year-end legislative elections," Chen Hung-chang said.

As the presidential election is over, the KMT and PFP should go their separate ways, seeing that they have different political goals, he said.

KMT Legislator Yu Yueh-hsia (游月霞), known for being outspoken, on Friday suggested that both Lien and Soong resign as party chairmen, retire from politics and allow the younger generation to take over.

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