Fri, Jan 28, 2005 - Page 3 News List

PFP warns KMT over election

A FRIEND IN NEED The People First Party is annoyed that some KMT legislators will not commit themselves to electing one of its legislators as deputy legislative speaker

By Caroline Hong and Debby Wu  /  STAFF REPORTERS

The People First Party (PFP) has threatened to withdraw support for the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) candidate for legislative speaker, newspapers reported yesterday.

The PFP also announced yesterday that PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) is likely to delay his return to Taiwan until Sunday.

Chinese-language media reported yesterday that PFP officials contacted KMT officials on Wednesday night because they were worried that KMT legislators might not back their candidate for deputy legislative speaker, Legislator Chung Jung-chi (鍾榮吉).

According to the report, the PFP threatened to give its legislators free rein in the vote for legislative speaker unless the KMT agreed to take action against legislators who do not vote for Chung.

This course of action would depend on the KMT deciding not to discipline legislators who do not toe the party line at its Central Standing Committee meeting today.

The KMT's Vice Chairman, Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), is running for reelection as legislative speaker. The elections for legislative speaker and deputy speaker will take place on Feb. 1.

PFP spokesman Hsieh Kung-ping (謝公秉) refused to confirm or deny the reported ultimatum.

"The PFP will throw all its effort behind a Wang [Jin-pyng]-Chung team in the legislature. We call on the KMT to show an equal amount of sincerity," Hsieh said.

The PFP legislative caucus has previously said that disciplinary measures would be taken to ensure that legislators voted for Wang and Chung.

Hsieh declined to specify what the PFP thought was sufficient proof of KMT "sincerity."

Hsieh also refused to say what the PFP would do if the KMT could not secure compliance among its legislator.

But Hsieh hinted that the PFP was worried about being "betrayed" by the KMT.

"Based on the PFP's previous experience, from the presidential election campaign to nominations for the legislative elections, working with the KMT has always seen unexpected elements crop up at critical times," Hsieh said.

In response, the KMT said it planned to convene a committee to discuss the matter and ensure that legislators vote as required on Tuesday. The meeting will be held before today's Central Standing Committee meeting, KMT spokesman Chang Jung-kung (張榮恭) said.

Amid reports suggesting the Wang-Chung ticket has become less than inevitable, the two men yesterday showed up at a campaign event together for the first time since Chung was named as the PFP's candidate.

During a luncheon at the Sheraton Taipei Hotel, Wang and Chung showed a united front as they asked for PFP lawmaker support.

"We will work together to secure this support. It will only be successful if we can achieve this goal together," Wang said.

Chung said his appearance with Wang was a response to the earlier rumor that there was friction between the two parties and stressed that he and Wang were conducting their campaigns separately simply because Wang had started earlier.

It was also revealed that Soong had delayed his return once more. Originally he was slated to return from the US this morning; now he is expected in Taipei on Sunday.

Wang said that Soong's delayed return would not affect the election for speaker or the KMT-PFP ticket in any way.

"It doesn't matter whether Chairman Soong returns on the 28th or the 30th because the KMT and the PFP caucuses will hold the joint campaign event on the 31st. Chairman Soong can still campaign in San Francisco," Wang said.

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