Despite People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong's (宋楚瑜) declaration on Saturday that his party would not join a coalition government with the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), the inner circle of the DPP appeared optimistic yesterday about the chances for cross-party collaboration.
"Some people quoted Soong's words and said the cooperation between the DPP and the PFP has fizzled out, but I don't think this is necessarily so," said Presidential Secretary-General Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) yesterday at his party's policy symposium held for newly-elected legislators.
The DPP's incoming chairman pointed out that Soong stressed that the PFP would work with the DPP on the issues of people's livelihood and economics, and "Soong did not oppose the arms purchases."
"I believe each party will carefully react to the public's loathing of the vicious political fights," Su said.
DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said that the DPP has not talked with Soong about organizing a new Cabinet and the reconciliation between the two parties has nothing to do with any "give-and-take conditions of personnel arrangement."
"There are still two weeks before the new legislative speaker is elected and politics changes fast," Ker said. "I believe there are a lot of possibilities for cross-party cooperation if both sides are sincere."
DPP Secretary-General Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄) said that the DPP expected Soong to meet with the president to talk about how the two parties could cooperate in the Legislative Yuan after the PFP chief returns from the US.
"In fact, Soong's statement has a lot of common grounds with President Chen's," Chang said. "Both Soong and the president realize that the public is tired of endless political confrontation and knows the significance of cooperation."
"As for the areas of cooperation, the picture will become clear after the president exchanges ideas with each party chairman," Chang said.
Kaohsiung Mayor Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), who has been touted as a possible choice for premier, said that cooperation is the "new trend and new fashion" and suggested that all political negotiations be transparent.
Meanwhile, the pan-blue camp yesterday played down Soong's words, saying that his comments were nothing new.
"He basically said what he's said before," said PFP legislative whip Liu Wen-hsiung (劉文雄) in a phone interview.
When questioned about Soong's rumored meetings with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific Randall Schriver and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Lawless, Liu denied that the meetings indicated a potential party shift in the PFP's stance on the NT$610.8 billion (US$18.2 billion) arms budget.
When asked who had arranged the meetings, Liu was coy, implying that Soong's Washington connections had helped.
"Soong has a PhD from Georgetown. He has many friends in the US government," Liu said.
The PFP's legislative caucus' stance is the same as Soong's, Liu said, adding that he hoped that Soong's press conference would put to rest all media speculation.
Speaking Saturday night after Soong's press conference, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) spokesman Chang Jung-kung (
In particular, Chang said, Soong's comments supporting KMT Vice Chairman Wang Jin-pyng's (