Mon, Jan 10, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Political flirtation gets more serious

COOPERATION Although President Chen Shui-bian is open to negotiations with PFP Chairman James Soong, Soong seems to be thinking hard about his next move

By Debby Wu and Caroline Hong  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Although the People First Party (PFP) has for the past week vehemently denied that its Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) has met any members of the Democratic Pro-gressive Party (DPP) to discuss a possible coalition between the two parties, the flirtations between the two parties continue, with the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) being left out of the loop.

The DPP-PFP romance became even more serious as it was revealed last week that the DPP has tried to get in touch with Soong about cooperation.

A PFP lawmaker tried to set up a meeting between Soong and the DPP's caucus whip and acting chairman, Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘), in the US last week, although the meeting eventually did not take place because Soong feared that Ker could not represent President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) well enough.

It is also understood that, although the president is willing to discuss any possibility or any government position with Soong, Soong is still thinking hard about his next move.

While the DPP-PFP coalition seems to be taking shape, the PFP is still denying any claims of a possible coalition.

"It is impossible for the two parties to form a coalition, because there are irreconcilable differences between the DPP's and our identification with the country," PFP caucus whip Liu Wen-hsiung (劉文雄) said.

"Plus it is the KMT who have demanded a coalition Cabinet with the DPP, and why isn't anyone questioning whether the KMT is shifting from its original stand?" Liu asked.

KMT Legislator Hsu Chong-hsiung (徐中雄) said that it was reasonable for the biggest and the third biggest parties in the legislature to collaborate, as such a move would reduce the conflict between the pan-green and pan-blue camps.

"But the greatest problem for the DPP right now is how to rationalize its move toward a coalition with the PFP, since it would be a major change that might be questioned by the party's supporters," Hsu said.

"While A-bian has adjusted his attitude to promoting reconciliation because he is already in his second term and no longer has to completely equate himself with the DPP, the PFP is still thirsting for power," Hsu said.

Hsu said that whether the coalition could go ahead also depends on the TSU's attitude, but "even former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) has given up the conflict method."

Hsu might be only too correct about the dilemma the PFP would face if Soong finally decides to cooperate with the DPP.

When asked by the Taipei Times yesterday if she supported a DPP-PFP coalition, PFP Legislator Li Yong-ping (李永萍) replied: "I am against it. My supporters are against it."

Echoing recent statements by the PFP's central committee, Li said that while the PFP affiliates itself with the KMT in terms of ideology on issues related to the nation's status and title, it is open to cooperation with any party on public issues.

Furthermore, the PFP has always been open to collaboration with rival parties on public issues, "or how else would anything at all have been accomplished in the past four years?" Li said.

Soong's statement that the PFP was open to cooperating with other parties was just "political talk" and "empty words," Li said, adding that all the rumors of cooperation were being released by the DPP in its own self-interest.

"The DPP is doing this to `save' Chen Shui-bian. Chen is the reason why the pan-greens were unable to win a majority of seats in the legislative elections. As a result, the only hope the pan-greens have is to make it seem like the pan-blue camp is not united," Li said.

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