Mon, Feb 07, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Lien beckons stray sheep to return to the KMT fold

BYGONES The KMT chairman invited 18 estranged party members to join the party's inner council, in a bid to woo back a number of wayward heavyweights

By Caroline Hong  /  STAFF REPORTER

Fulfilling its earlier promise, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday took advantage of the Lunar New Year to call on former party members to come back to the fold.

"The KMT, with a grateful attitude and the utmost respect, would like to invite 18 new members to the presidium of the Central Advisory Council (CAC). In this new year, we hope to use your experiences to hold ourselves to the spirit of the cock that crows despite the dark and rainy night," said KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) yesterday while issuing invitations to senior pan-blue politicians.

In honor of Wednesday's Lunar New Year's day, the KMT held a tea gathering yesterday at its Taipei headquarters for Lien to officially meet with blue camp old guard members and invite them to become members of the presidium.

A focus of media attention yesterday was the inclusion of former KMT members Hau Pei-tsun (郝柏村), Lin Yang-kang (林洋港), Hsu Li-lung (許歷農) and Shao En-hsin (邵恩新) on the list of presidium candidates.

All four were former KMT heavyweights who are either now independents or New Party members.

"By welcoming Hau, Lin, Hsu and Shao back into the KMT's ranks, the KMT is fulfilling the decision made in our Jan. 19 Central Standing Committee meeting to invite `old comrades' to rejoin the KMT. This is only the first of such invitations," KMT Spokesman Chang Jung-kung (張榮恭) said in a statement released Saturday night.

The KMT decided last month to begin inviting former party members back into the party as part of its efforts to consolidate the pan-blue camp. The party also decided last month to amend its party's regulations so that ex-members who had been expelled from the party or whose party membership had been revoked more than a year ago could immediately apply to re-join the party with no restrictions.

The amendment has been widely viewed as an appeal to members of the People First Party (PFP). The PFP and KMT were originally slated to merge after last December's legislative elections, but the two parties have remained split after disagreements in the runup to that election.

At yesterday's new year's meeting, Hau urged PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) to come back to the KMT.

"I won't give an opinion on Soong returning to the KMT," Hau said yesterday. "However, I still hope that he will come back, in the interest of unity."

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