Fri, Mar 25, 2005 - Page 3 News List

KMT slams Chen's decision to march; PFP less angry

By Caroline Hong  /  STAFF REPORTER

The pan-blue camp's reaction to President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) decision to join tomorrow's protest against China's "Anti-Secession" Law was mixed yesterday, with People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) saying that he felt Chen's attendence was "inappropriate."

In contrast, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) said that Chen should clarify his position on Taiwan's independence and said it hoped Chen would not "provoke trouble with a public statement."

While taping an interview with the television network China Television Co (CTV) yesterday, Soong said that while it is the people's right to take to the streets, he does not feel that Chen's attendence, nor Premier Frank Hsieh's (謝長廷) appeal to civil servants to attend the march, are appropiate.

While Soong said he agreed with Chen's decision not to give any speeches at the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)-organized rally, he added that it was "not suitable and very inappropiate" for Chen to attend the march or for Hsieh to encourage public servants to take part in the protest.

Chen's decision, said Soong, does not violate any of the ten points of agreement he and Chen co-signed in a Feb. 24 meeting. However, added Soong, he personally would have chosen another course of action.

"If I were President Chen, I would hold an international press conference that day instead. But since the president has already made his decision, then I support him," Soong said yesterday. He urged Chen to consider the international reaction, however.

During his interview, Soong confirmed media reports yesterday that the Presidential Office had called the PFP prior to the announcement yesterday morning, to inform him of the president's decision.

In contrast to Soong's low-key response yesterday, the KMT's central committee criticized Chen's decision, while mocking Chen's pledge not to lead or make speeches at the protest.

"Chen Shui-bian's remarks on cross-strait relations have gone back and forth and been through many changes, making him a focus of US attention. Once the march is in progress and Chen's emotions run high, there is the risk that there will be another situation where Chen makes a `verbal provocation.' Therefore, he will not be talking," said KMT spokesman Chang Jung-kung (張榮恭) at the KMT's central headquarters in Taipei yesterday.

"We expect that during the 326 march, there will be many participants calling for constitutional reform, the rectification of Taiwan's name and the establishment of a Republic of Taiwan.

If the international community considers Chen to be the behind-the-scenes initiator of the march, then we will lose the sympathy that the international community has for Taiwan.

At this time, when both China and Taiwan are struggling to gain international sympathy, this will be very unbeneficial for Taiwan," Chang said yesterday.

Chen's appeal to the people to participate in the march to give a demonstration on the scale of the July, 2003 mass protests in Hong Kong confuses Taiwan's stance against China's bill, Chang said yesterday.

While Chen has emphasized that Taiwan is not Hong Kong, international media may draw mistaken comparisons between Taiwan and Hong Kong, said Chang yesterday.

However, since Hong Kong is under China's rule and Taiwan is not, such a comparison would harm the dignity of Taiwan, Chang said.

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