Sat, Feb 04, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Soong lashes out at party deserters

HEARTBREAKING The PFP chairman said his party will continue to tread its own `middle course' despite all the defections, and slammed the president's New Year address

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH CNA

PFP Chairman James Soong speaks at the party's Lunar New Year ceremony. He expressed regret that members are abandoning the party but insisted that he would not change his stance.

PHOTO: CHANG CHIA-MING, TAIPEI TIMES

People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) yesterday lambasted party members who have defected to the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), saying the party will maintain a "middle course" in policies to fight for the rights of the people.

A total of nine PFP legislators and several Taipei city councilors have left the party recently to join the KMT, including four legislators who announced their decisions before the Lunar New Year break. The move, Soong acknowledged, was a disappointing incident for the PFP.

"While it is heartbreaking for us, the PFP will maintain its high standards ? I urged those who identified with the party's principles to stay, and those who couldn't ride out the difficult times with us to leave," said Soong yesterday during the party's New Year gathering.

Stressing the party maxim -- rationality and professionalism -- Soong criticized the president's plans to abolish the unification guidelines, and said the PFP will insist on maintaining the status quo.

Soong said yesterday that his party opposes any pro-independence or unilateral changes to the cross-strait status quo that could bring Taiwan to the brink of war with China and urged the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government not to place personal political interests ahead of the national benefit and hurt the welfare of Taiwan's people.

"The president made clear his radical independence stance with the announcement, which is inflammatory. The PFP will keep walking a middle course and fight against negative clashes between political parties," he said.

The middle course policy, Soong said, will be extended in the legislature. The party will ponder livelihood bills from the people's point of view, and retain its stance on major issues including the arms procurement budget, he said.

"Our attitude towards the arms procurement budget bill and the Control Yuan nominees will remain the same. The PFP has always maintained its policies, although our insistence on certain issues was distorted because of our ally's concerns," Soong said.

"With opinionated members having now left, the PFP will think only about people's needs," he added.

Soong said his party is willing to discuss the arms procurement budget issue with the KMT and the ruling party, probably in April. The KMT, on the other hand, will make public its version of the budget bill in late February or March.

Claiming that the PFP will do its utmost to protect the status quo between Taiwan and China, Soong made it clear that this means that the "de jure existence" of the Republic of China in line with the Constitution must be maintained and that the PFP will never promote "de jure Taiwan independence."

Maintaining the cross-strait status quo is a means to build mutual respect, make peace and develop co-existence, amend differences and settle disputes, he said.

According to the PFP chairman, remarks made by President Chen Shui-bian since the beginning of this year until Jan. 29 -- the Lunar New Year's Day -- all indicate that Chen will devote his energy to advocating "hasty independence" during his last two years in office.

Soong accused the president of seeking to solidify his power base within the DPP by fueling cross-strait tension so as to shift public attention away from the DPP's alleged corruption and poor performance to the independence-unification dispute.

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