Thu, Dec 07, 2006 - Page 3 News List

James Soong sues DPP rival over text message rumor

By Mo Yan-chih and Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTERS

People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) filed a lawsuit yesterday against his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei mayoral rival Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) for allegedly violating the Election and Recall Law (選舉罷免法).

On Tuesday Hsieh showed reporters a text message which said that Soong would withdraw from the race yesterday. He said the message came from someone in the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).

Soong's camp quickly dismissed the claim, and said Hsieh should withdraw from the race for spreading rumors.

Chu Ou (朱甌), Soong's campaign office director, represented Soong in filing the lawsuit at the Taipei District Prosecutors' Office. Since Hsieh refused to reveal the source of his information, Chu said the Soong camp believed Hsieh spread the rumor in a bid to prevent Soong from being elected, which would be a violation of the law.

"We know that there will be more rumors and speculation as the election approaches, and we will take legal action against any smear campaigns against Mr. Soong," Chu said.

Hsieh said yesterday that he was simply trying to remind Soong that somebody from the KMT was spreading a rumor that the PFP chief would quit campaigning.

"I meant no harm at all," Hsieh said. "Maybe I should not be such a nice guy."

"I was not the person who started it but now he is suing me," he said, "but I would not blame him anyway because he is also a victim of this affair."

DPP Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) told a separate press conference yesterday that the text message had been sent to Hsieh from the KMT.

"There is indeed a group of people within the KMT who are advocates of a plan aimed at `extinguishing Soong,'" she said.

PFP lawmakers also mentioned such a plan.

"The KMT had made a great effort to invite our lawmakers back to the KMT, part of its plan to extinguish Soong," PFP spokesman Lee Hung-chin (李鴻鈞) said.

Meanwhile, PFP Legislator Lu Hsueh-chang (呂學樟) did not dismiss a rumor that he would quit the party to join the KMT after the elections, saying that his supporters had been urging him to make the switch.

"I am in a dilemma over whether to take action, as I have to consider the political reality and the revolutionary feeling of Soong as well," Lu said, referring to the "single-member district, two votes" electoral system which will be used in next year's legislative elections.

PFP Legislator Hsu Yao-chang (徐耀昌) is also rumored to be mulling jumping ship. He has said that he faces the same situation as Lu.

Additional reporting by Jimmy Chuang

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