Thu, Dec 30, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Soong should head new body: DPP

MAN OF THE MOMENT People First Party Chairman James Soong was yesterday mooted by former political rivals as head of a proposed cross-strait peace committee

By Caroline Hong and Debby Wu  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Vice President Annette Lu, right, and DPP Secretary General Chang Chun-hsiung, left, shake hands with newly elected pan-green legislators at a function at the Presidential Office yesterday.

PHOTO: SOONG CHI-HSIUNG, TAIPEI TIMES

In support of the People First Party's (PFP) possible switch of allegiance from Chinese Natio-nalist Party (KMT) issues in the legislature and a recent statement by PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜), the Democratic Progress-ive Party (DPP), the PFP's erstwhile rival, proposed yesterday that Soong be made the head of a cross-strait peace committee.

In contrast, the KMT yesterday accused the PFP of helping the DPP in its attempt to annihilate the KMT, while extending an olive branch with a proposal to alter party regulations to smooth the way for a potential merger.

Speculation that the PFP is planning to change political allegiances was rampant yesterday, given the party's decision to abandon the KMT in the KMT's efforts on Tuesday to block a party-asset bill from entering the legislature and a statement from Soong announcing the party's new focus on "center voters."

Public Good

In the statement released late on Tuesday night, Soong said that the PFP agrees with the KMT on its position on Taiwan's national identity and title. However, in "public policies and social issues, [the PFP] will not exclude the possibility of cooperation with any party, in the interest of the public good," Soong said in the statement.

The DPP caucus yesterday acknowledged and approved of Soong's statement and recommended Soong to become convener of the Committee for Cross-Strait Peace and Development (兩岸和平發展委員會) and act as an icebreaker in cross-strait relations.

"The DPP caucus is happy to see Soong's statement aimed at surpassing the conflicts between the pan-blues and the pan-greens, and this could open a door for cooperation among parties," DPP caucus whip Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) said.

Another DPP caucus whip, Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘), also praised the friendly interaction between the DPP and PFP in the party-asset bill's passage through the Procedure Committee and proposed that Soong head a proposed committee on cross-strait relations.

The committee was proposed by President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) before the legislative elections, and he hoped to reopen cross-strait talks via the committee.

Meanwhile, the KMT caucus declared that it would oppose the passing of the DPP or TSU's version of the party-asset bill in the current legislative session, although it would allow the PFP's version space for negotiation.

The KMT's leadership was also less than pleased with the PFP's legislative turnabout.

Attempts

The DPP's and Executive Yuan's versions of the bill are attempts to liquidate the KMT, KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) said in a closed-door KMT Central Standing Committee meeting yesterday, as reported by party spokesman Chang Jung-kung (張榮恭).

In an indirect criticism of the PFP, Lien said that if there had been any "situations" occurring which "aid" the DPP in liquidating the KMT, the KMT will not be "just regretful." He urged the party's legislative caucus to exert all its power to stop the bill.

While criticizing the PFP, however, Lien commended a proposal by standing committee member Wu Bi-chu (吳碧珠).

The proposal supported eliminating stipulations in party regulations that ex-KMT party members must wait one year to three years before rejoining the party, with restrictions on their rights within the party.

Responses

The PFP's responses to both parties yesterday were low-key, with PFP spokesman Hsieh Kung-pin (謝公秉) saying only that the PFP was determined to walk a compassionate middle road. Hsieh said that the PFP had no party leanings, as shown by its version of the party-assets bill which it claims is more neutral than the DPP's version and its consistent opposition to a government-supported arms budget.

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