Fri, Nov 19, 2004 - Page 3 News List

PFP member wrestling with cross-party dilemma

LOYALTIES Hsu Ching-yuan of the PFP faces the dilemma of whether to support a DPP candidate in order to be able to keep his promises to Taitung County voters

By Caroline Hong  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH CNA

Should loyalties to hometown voters supercede party policy? That is the question Taitung County Commissioner Hsu Ching-yuan (徐慶元) is facing these days.

In another instance of conflict caused by cross-party interests in the run-up to the legislative elections, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday confirmed that Hsu, a People First Party (PFP) member, was considering giving his support to the DPP's candidate in Taitung County.

The news has led the PFP to accuse the DPP of using its administrative advantage to exert pressure on Hsu by promising him resources for two major county construction projects. It has also fueled media speculation that a break between Hsu and the PFP is imminent.

Hsu said on Monday that any support he gives the DPP will be because he believes the DPP administration will give him the funds and assistance to expand Taitung's Fu-gang Harbor and widen the Southern Cross-Island Highway, projects Hsu had promised Taitung residents would be undertaken during his tenure.

DPP Deputy Secretary-General Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) yesterday confirmed that Hsu Ching-yuan is considering adding his support to the campaign of DPP candidate Hsu Jui-kui (許瑞貴).

While the DPP has no plans to extend party membership to the Taitung County commissioner, he will appear onstage with President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) at a rally for Hsu Jui-kui in Taitung, Lee said.

PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) yesterday expressed regret overHsu Ching-yuan's actions and condemned the Chen administration for abusing its position to exert pressure on Hsu to support the DPP's candidate in Taitung County.

"This is not about a difference in party affiliation. It is about a difference in position," Soong said at a rally for the PFP's sole legislative candidate in Yunlin Country, Legislator Chen Chien-sung (陳劍松).

Soong said that, while he can understand Hsu Ching-yuan's determination to fulfill his promises to local voters, the PFP has promised the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) that it would support its two candidates in Taitung County.

Hsu Ching-yuan has said he realizes the awkwardness of the situation and has told the party that he would rather drop out of the PFP voluntarily than create difficulties for the party, Soong said.

When asked whether he would be joining Chen on the campaign trail for Hsu Jui-kui, Hsu Ching-yuan said that he was still considering how to best balance integrity with party loyalties.

Representatives in Hsu Ching-yuan's office told the Taipei Times that Hsu Ching-yuan would be making a final decision about whether to help Hsu Jui-kui in his election campaign and about his status with the PFP in the next few days.

According to PFP spokesperson Hwang Yih-jiau (黃義交), the Chen administration is dangling a policy "carrot" in front of Hsu Ching-yuan which gives him no other choice but to comply with the DPP's wishes if he hopes to realize local policy reforms.

"I believe that there is a tacit understanding that if Hsu supports the DPP's candidate, he will receive assistance. It is immoral for the DPP to force Hsu into doing this," Hwang said.

DPP caucus whip Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) said that many DPP county commissioners had served successfully under the government when it was controlled by the KMT without complaining of political pressure from the government.

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