Wed, Sep 07, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Ma denies knowledge of PFP member's defection

BY MO YAN-CHIH  /  STAFF REPORTER

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday denied knowing that a People First Party (PFP) member had returned to the KMT when he met PFP Chairman James Soong at the airport on Monday on Soong's return from a trip to the US.

The leader of the PFP caucus' office, Chin Hui-chu (秦慧珠), on Monday announced that she would return to the KMT.

The PFP was established by Soong and a breakaway group of KMT members in 2000. Soong was expelled from the KMT in 1999 after he launched an independent presidential campaign.

Ma yesterday said he hoped Chin's decision wouldn't affect his meeting with Soong, scheduled for yesterday afternoon.

"I don't think Chin's departure from the PFP creates an embarrassing situation, and I hope the incident won't have a negative influence on the meeting," Ma said.

Not made public

According to Ma, Chin returned to the KMT in the middle of last month, but had asked the party's Organization and Development Committee not to publicize the matter until Soong returned from US. Ma said he did not know about the incident until Monday.

Another former PFP legislator, Hsieh Chang-chieh (謝章捷), also left the PFP in an attempt to run as the KMT's candidate for Changhua County commissioner.

Not deliberate

Responding to the possibility that more PFP members will follow in the footsteps of Chin and Hsieh, Ma said that the KMT welcomes anyone who wants to join the party, but would not set up any measures specifically to smooth the way for groups of PFP members to return.

KMT spokeswoman Cheng Li-wen (鄭麗文) denied that the party was trying to lure PFP members back to the KMT.

"Chin joined the KMT because of a personal decision. We do not have a plan to attract PFP members to return to the party. Our current priority is seeking cooperation with the PFP," Cheng said.

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) yesterday said he believes the two parties will eventually merge, but that this will have to happen naturally.

"The KMT and PFP have the same roots. PFP members return to the KMT because they feel the need to do so," Wang said.

"While I'm not in a position to say anything about this, I can understand how the PFP feels," he said

When asked whether he is sanguine about the prospects for cooperation between Ma and Soong, Wang said the two parties had been cooperating in the legislature for a long time and had achieved a lot.

Merger

"I expect to see further cooperation between the parties in the future," he said.

"Unification of the two parties is the way to go," he said.

When asked whether he plans to push forward his meeting with Soong, Wang only said that he and Soong can communicate at any time.

Additional reporting by Ko Shu-ling

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