Thu, Jan 20, 2005 - Page 3 News List

KMT planning to woo former members

CLEAN SLATE The proposed amendment to the party's internal rules would allow expelled former members to return and calls for the erasure of their disciplinary records

By Caroline Hong  /  STAFF REPORTER

In a move widely seen as being directed at its erstwhile ally the People First Party (PFP), the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday gave initial approval to an amendment to its party regulations to allow former members to return to the fold with a clean slate. The KMT said that it plans to start formally approaching former members to invite them to rejoin the party.

During its weekly meeting yesterday, the KMT's Central Standing Committee okayed changing the party's regulations so that former members who had been expelled from the party or whose party membership had been revoked for more than one year could immediately apply to rejoin the party, with no restrictions.

"Within the nation, there are still forces acting to diminish the Republic of China. This a very important amendment in supporting the Republic of China and consolidating the power of the center," KMT Spokesman Chang Jung-kung (張榮恭) quoted KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) as saying at the closed-door meeting.

The new clause is intended to welcome back all former party members who still hold the same beliefs as the KMT, which is also encouraging young people to join the party, the KMT said yesterday.

The proposed amendment, which has been dubbed the "Welcome Soong" clause by the Chinese-language media -- referring to PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) -- would not only allow all former KMT members to immediately resume their membership, but also calls for the erasure of all disciplinary records for those returning home.

It would effectively replace the "Soong Expulsion" amendment, which the party had unanimously approved in 2000 after Soong incurred the KMT's wrath by running a maverick presidential campaign.

The disciplinary amendment changed the party's regulations so that all former party members who have had their membership revoked or who have been expelled from the party are barred from becoming party chairman or running for its Central Committee upon their re-entry into the party.

After being passed by the Central Standing Committee, the party's Central Committee will decide whether or not to ratify the amendment when it meets sometime in July or August.

Chang told a press conference after yesterday's meeting that the KMT's organizational development committee will consider extending invitations to "departed friends" to rejoin the party before the Central Committee meeting.

On his way to the Central Standing Committee meeting yesterday morning, Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), a KMT vice chairman, voiced his support for the clause.

"It will give back justice to James Soong. He has suffered much in these past few years," Ma said, adding that he would welcome Soong running for the KMT's chairmanship.

The PFP was hesitant in its reaction yesterday.

"It is just a change to their internal rules; it is not a big contribution. The important thing is that the KMT is walking away from the path of [former president] Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) and suggesting a vision before our two parties can cooperate," Liu Wen-hsiung (劉文雄), the PFP's legislative caucus whip, told reporters.

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