Tue, Dec 28, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Lien, Soong meet during funeral

COOPERATION People First Party Chairman James Soong pointed to better relations with the KMT, and Chiang Fang-liang's funeral gave Soong a chance to meet his KMT counterpart

By Caroline Hong  /  STAFF REPORTER

Funeral aides prepare to drape the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) flag and the national flag over the coffin of former first lady Faina Chiang Fang-liang at Taipei Veterans General Hospital yesterday.

PHOTO: CNA

How to cooperate more effectively is on the agenda for troubled pan-blue allies the People First Party (PFP) and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) said yesterday.

Returning to Taiwan from the US yesterday morning to attend a funeral service for former first lady Faina Chiang Fang-liang (蔣方良), Soong told reporters that the PFP and the KMT would work together to steer the nation's policy direction.

"I repeat: The KMT and the PFP will cooperate," Soong said on arrival at CKS International Airport yesterday morning.

Soong said the two parties would work together to draw up policies that would maintain the status quo and defend the use of the title "Republic of China."

Adding to speculation that the troubled relationship between the two parties is on the mend, Legislative Speaker and KMT Vice Chairman Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) personally greeted Soong at the airport on behalf of KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰).

Asked later in the day on when a highly-anticipated meeting between the leaders of the two parties would take place, Soong said he would leave the decision up to party officials.

The two parties have not met in an official capacity since the legislative elections. And while both parties have said that they would meet after the elections to discuss a pan-blue camp merger, conflict between the parties during the campaign strained relations, making the future of any merger an object of intense media speculation.

During Chiang's funeral later in the morning, Soong met briefly with Lien, shaking hands after the service.

Chiang, who died on Dec. 15 of pulmonary and cardiac failure at the age of 88, was the widow of late president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國).

A large number of government officials and political figures attended yesterday's service, with President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) being the first to pay their respects at 8am.

After the ceremony concluded at around 10:30am, Chiang's body was sent to a crematorium in Keelung, where it was cremated. Her ashes were then taken to a temporary mausoleum in Touliao, Taoyuan County.

Chiang was praised during the funeral service by Pastor Chow Lien-hwa (周聯華) for her years of dedication to her husband and family.

While Chiang had a "foreigner's face," Chow said, she also had a "Chinese heart."

While at the airport, Soong also chatted about his marriage, saying that Sunday was the 38th anniversary of his marriage to Chen Wan-shui (陳萬水).

Soong left for San Francisco two weeks ago amid speculation that his marriage was on the rocks.

"No matter if you're talking about [the relationship between] political parties or man and wife, or even between friends, there are bound to be differences in opinion at times," Soong said.

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