Sun, Mar 27, 2005 - Page 5 News List

Blue camp calls protest rally ' a waste'

SUBDUEDThe KMT said the demonstration was a waste of government resources and continued its internal bickering as hundreds of thousands took to the streets

By Caroline Hong  /  STAFF REPORTER, WITH CNA

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) expressed his disapproval of yesterday's massive demonstration co-organized by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) against China's "Anti-Secession" Law.

During a meeting with local KMT politicians in Taichung, Lien said the DPP, which controls substantial administrative resources, could have done something more meaningful to express its unhappiness with the law than mobilizing people to take to the streets.

The day was business as usual for the blue camp yesterday, with pan-blue leaders avoiding the pan-green march against China's law while continuing a long-standing voting dispute about the KMT's July chairmanship elections.

No pan-blue political figures made an appearance at yesterday's rally yesterday, despite the fact that several pan-blue legislators and Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) had refused to reveal their final decisions on whether they would attend up until the eve of the rally.

Keeping well out of the protest's way, Lien, accompanied by Wang, spent yesterday attending a funeral in Changhua and meeting with supporters in Taichung.

Similarly, People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) also kept a low-profile yesterday. Party spokesman Hsieh Kung-ping (謝公秉) said that Soong was spending the day at home yesterday. Despite his duties as Taipei City mayor, KMT Vice Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) also took time out yesterday morning to visit KMT old guard and meet with Lien in Taichung before rushing back to Taipei to oversee the rally in the afternoon.

Throughout yesterday's rally, the pan-blue camp's response was muted.

"Everyone has different ways of asking for peace. The main point is to keep pursuing peace and stability," said Lien yesterday in Taichung.

Meanwhile, KMT caucus whip Chen Chieh (陳杰) confirmed that he had not heard of any KMT legislators who were planning to attend the march, while adding that the parade was a waste of the country's resources.

"The important thing is that after the march, what direction should be taken with cross-strait relations? Should we continue resisting, pretend that we do not see what is going on, or work for [cross-strait] reconciliation?" KMT spokesman Chang Jung-kung (張榮恭) said yesterday.

To avoid possible damage to the KMT's party headquarters, which is situated near Ketagelan Boulevard, the KMT shut its doors yesterday, although it did not bar party members interested in the rally from attending.

Despite the mass protest, inner-party politics continued for the KMT, with Lien denying media rumors that he had gotten involved in a dispute between party chairman candidates Ma and Wang.

According to a report in the Chinese-language daily the China Times yesterday, Lien said he would resign if a dispute over whether non-paying members of the KMT be allowed to vote in the party's July 16 chairmanship election is put to a vote in the party's Central Standing Committee this week.

The dispute has long been a point of contention between Ma and Wang, with Wang in favor of non-paying party members being given voting rights in the election and Ma opposing that view. While the issue was originally scheduled to be settled this past Wednesday, the matter was unexpectedly put off and will now be decided this coming Wednesday.

Both Lien and the KMT party central denied the report that he might resign, saying that anything of such importance would have been openly announced.

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