Fri, Oct 20, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Soong signs up for Taipei race

SPLIT VOTE Fears that the pan-blue camp's support might be split increased as Soong pledged that he would not withdraw from the year-end mayoral race

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

A Democratic Progressive Party supporter puts up a poster mocking People First Party Chairman James Soong as ''The Clown of National Day'' outside the Taipei Municipal Election Committee, where Soong registered for the Taipei mayoral election yesterday.

PHOTO: CNA

Hopes that the country's two main opposition parties would be able to field a single candidate for the year-end Taipei mayoral race were dashed yesterday as People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) registered as a non-partisan candidate and vowed not to withdraw from the race.

Swamped by PFP legislators, city councilors and supporters, Soong registered his candidacy with the Taipei Municipal Election Committee, announcing that he was temporarily leaving the party for the election while declining to confirm whether or not there would be room for further negotiations.

"I am in no position to comment on the issue ... I already took a leave of absence from the PFP and do not represent the party now," Soong said at the committee's office.

In an effort to prevent a repeat of the 1994 Taipei mayoral election, when two pan-blue candidates split the vote, giving the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) candidate Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) a surprise victory, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has been negotiating with the PFP, hoping to dissuade Soong from competing with the party's Taipei mayoral candidate Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌).

Asked whether or not he would accept any deals and make way for the KMT, Soong reiterated his determination to run in the election and downplayed the issue of pan-blue unity.

"Pan-blue voters worry about losing the election to the pan-green camp due to a split, but is the election all about winning? Keelung Mayor Hsu Tsai-li (許財利) won the election, but he has dealt a blow to morality and lost public support," he said.

Hsu ran as KMT candidate and won in the Keelung mayoral election last December over his PFP counterpart Liu Wen-hsiung (劉文雄). Hsu campaigned with the endorsement of KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九). Last month he was sentenced to seven years in prison for corruption.

Ma yesterday reiterated that the KMT would continue to negotiate with the PFP on the issue, but acknowledged that negotiations have not been smooth.

"We've talked to the PFP many times directly or indirectly, but they are not satisfied with some of the conditions," he said while attending a municipal event.

While the KMT wanted to dissuade Soong from joining the election through negotiations, Soong has refused to budge and instead asked Ma during their closed-door meeting to dissuade Hau, according to KMT Secretary-General Chan Chun-po (詹春柏).

Facing a declining support rate with Soong and Independent Legislator Li Ao (李敖) splitting the pan-blue support base, Hau yesterday said his main opponent would still be DPP Taipei candidate Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), and that he would leave the issue of KMT-PFP negotiations for the party to handle.

"As a mayoral candidate, what I should do now is to spare no efforts to win the election," Hau told the press yesterday at his campaign headquarters.

Meanwhile, the pan-green camp is also facing the threat of a split as the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) yesterday refused to negotiate with the DPP on fielding one candidate in the Kaohsiung mayoral election.

The DPP's candidate is former Council of Labor Affairs chairwoman Chen Chu (陳菊), while TSU Legislator Lo Chih-ming (羅志明) yesterday registered his candidacy with Kaohsiung's election committee.

In response to DPP Chairman Yu Shyi-kun's suggestion that public surveys decide who should represent the green camp, TSU Chairman Chin-chiang (蘇進強) yesterday said he would rather "hang [himself] up if the DPP wants to conduct a survey in Kaohsiung."

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