Sun, Oct 22, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Ma denies secret Soong meetings

UNITED FRONT The KMT chairman insisted that cooperation between his party and the PFP would continue despite James Soong labeling many of his top aides 'bad guys'

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

As speculation about deteriorating relations between the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the People First Party (PFP) continues, KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday denied having discussed exchanges of interests with his PFP counterpart James Soong (宋楚瑜).

The two held a closed-door meeting on Oct. 14 and exchanged ideas on issues including the PFP's plan to topple the Cabinet.

While both the KMT and PFP initially denied having touched upon the issue of pan-blue unity in the year-end Taipei mayoral election, Soong later said he had made clear his intention of standing in the election to Ma during the meeting.

Soong declared his Taipei mayoral candidacy on Thursday.

Admitting that the KMT and PFP had failed to reach any consensus during negotiations, Ma yesterday denied holding secret meetings with Soong.

"There has always been a third person in the meetings between me and chairman Soong. We never held secret meetings, and we never talked about exchanges of interests," Ma said yesterday while campaigning for a party city councilor in Shihlin.

Ma told the press during a municipal event on Thursday that the KMT had negotiated with the PFP on the Taipei mayoral election on many occasions over the past six months, but "the PFP were not satisfied with some of the conditions."

Some Chinese-language papers, for example, the United Daily News, claimed that one of the "conditions" proposed during Oct. 14's meeting included Soong's supporting Ma in the 2008 presidential election in exchange for his representing the pan-blue camp in the Taipei mayoral election.

Ma yesterday dismissed the media allegations, and said that he had made the comments simply to highlight the fact that the KMT has made efforts to communicate with the PFP, instead of "leaking secrets."

"The KMT proposed to field one final candidate using a survey if negotiations failed, but the PFP thought it would be difficult to do so ? Soong never talked about the 2008 presidential election," he said.

Soong also denied proposing to bargain in return for his renouncing his mayoral election bid on Friday.

Shrugging off Soong's remarks that many of his top aides were "bad guys," Ma insisted that the KMT-PFP cooperation will continue even though negotiations failed.

With Soong, KMT Taipei mayoral candidate Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) and Independent Legislator Lee Ao (李敖) splitting the pan-blue support base, the KMT acknowledged that it would be fighting an uphill battle to win the election.

It nevertheless denied that Ma would have to resign to shoulder the responsibility if the party loses the year-end elections.

"No KMT chairmen have ever been asked to take the responsibility for election outcomes," KMT Secretary-General Chan Chun-po (詹春柏) said yesterday.

"The highest-ranking officer who ever stepped down over losing an election was the party secretary-general," he said.

Chan made the remarks in response to a United Daily News report that some KMT legislators had agreed that Ma should resign if the party lost the year-end elections.

"Party legislators should not add fuel to the flames when we are encountering a crisis. Elections are not solely the party chairman's responsibility," said Liao Fung-te (廖風德), director of the KMT's Organization and Development Committee.

Ma later said he would do everything possible to make sure the KMT wins both the Taipei and Kaohsiung mayoral elections.

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