Wed, Nov 01, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Lee Teng-hui considering formation of a `third force'

`THIRD FORCE' The former president wants to create a new group that can overcome the partisanship of the blue and green camps, but details are sketchy and critics legion

By Mo Yan-chih and Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) is mulling starting a "third force" alliance in response to the bitter partisan struggle between the pan-blue and pan-green camps and ethnic divisions, Taiwan Solidarity Union Chairman Shu Chin-chiang (蘇進強) said yesterday.

Shu told a press conference that Lee believes a "third and rational force" could help Taiwan "walk out of bipolar opposition."

Shu said Lee did not elabarate on what he meant by a "third force" alliance.

The TSU chief, however, said that he believes such a "force" could not be politically influential unless it was a political party.

Reports yesterday in Chinese-language papers, including the China Times and the United Daily News, said that Lee is considering forming a "third force" around March or April, in an effort to resolve social and political turmoil.

The articles said Lee hoped to position the alliance as a moderate centrist organization, and to address issues such as integrity and morality. The alliance would nominate a candidate to join in the 2008 presidential election, they said.

The preferred candidates, according to the reports, would be Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) or Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei mayoral candidate Frank Hsieh (謝長廷).

When asked for comment, Shu said that he had no comment as to who would form such an alliance with Lee. He said it was too early for the media to predict candidates.

Lee hopes the TSU, which regards him as its spiritual leader, would play the role of a driving force in the establishment of such an alliance, Shu added.

Meanwhile, Wang said neither Lee nor the TSU had contacted him about the matter.

"A reporter from the United Daily News called me for comment about that late last night, and that was the first time I heard about it," Wang told reporters.

Calling himself a Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) member of the utmost loyalty, Wang said he did not think it was an issue, because "[the new force] doesn't exist."

He refused to comment on whether there would be space for a new party beyond the pan-blues and the pan-greens.

DPP Chairman Yu Shyi-kun, meanwhile, told a press conference that anyone was free to form a "third force" alliance, given that the people have the freedom to assemble and to form an association in a democracy.

Yu said that these rights should be respected, but he added that it is not clear whether the nation could accommodate a "third force."

Mainstream public opinion still wishes for and was more willing to accept a "sound two-party system," Yu said.

In other developments, KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) declined to comment on speculation that Lee would invite Wang to form a "third force."

"Wang will make his own judgments and decisions using his wisdom and sense of responsibility," Ma said while attending a ceremony in Taoyuan to celebrate the dictator Chiang Kai-shek's (蔣介石) birthday.

People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜), on the other hand, said that people's disappointment over both the corrupt government and the impotent KMT gave room for a third power to grow.

Soong said his decision to join the Taipei mayoral election was an effort to keep Taipei from being ruled by either the DPP or the KMT, and to solve problems for the public.

"I am the third power ... I feel like I should put more effort into winning the election, and integrate the KMT and the PFP," he said in front of his campaign bus.

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