People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) yesterday dismissed media speculation that he would rejoin the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) after leaving the party seven years ago.
A story in yesterday's Chinese-language United Daily News quoted an anonymous KMT source as saying that Soong was seriously considering the possibility of returning following the KMT and PFP's completion of the coordination of their district legislative nominations.
The source said Soong and KMT Chairman Wu Po-hsiung (吳伯雄) have been in close contact with each other recently and have a certain implicit agreement on Soong rejoining the KMT, although neither of them have officially discussed the possibility.
Considering that six PFP legislators will run in next year's legislative poll on behalf of the KMT and that the two parties will nominate legislators-at-large together, the KMT and PFP have already in reality merged, which has left Soong with no other choice, another senior anonymous KMT source was quoted as saying in the article.
When approached by reporters at a memorial service, Soong said he could not understand why the United Daily News printed the story.
"The United Daily News always reports false news," he said. "In the past, it has launched personal attacks [against me]. Now it goes as far as reporting things that are far from the truth while at the same time urging the pan-blue camp to integrate," he said.
Soong said the newspaper should instead urge the KMT to detail its standpoints on issues such as joining the UN and the government's "desinicization" campaign or the public would all suffer from "schizophrenia."
Soong withdrew from the KMT to run as an independent in the presidential race in 2000 and established the PFP on March 31 the same year after losing in the election.
The KMT's presidential candidate, Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), said a merger is the direction in which the two parties are heading.
"The KMT's door is always open," he said.
"After Wu became chairman, one of his ideals was to make as many friends as possible," said Su Jun-pin (蘇俊賓), a spokesman for the KMT. "We respect and welcome an ally like Chairman Soong."
PFP Legislator Liu Wen-hsiung (劉文雄) said the rumor had been started by PFP lawmakers in an effort to secure the KMT's legislator-at-large nominations.
"They are eager to secure the nominations so that they started the rumor with the aim of showing loyalty to the KMT," Liu said without naming any names.
If the merger of the PFP and the KMT takes place before the coming legislative election, scheduled for Jan. 12 next year, the PFP would lose its legislator-at-large seats as well as its election grant.
Under the election grant system, each candidate is subsidized NT$30 for each ballot that exceeds one-third of the votes sufficient to win in the respective single-seat constituency, and political parties receive subsidies of NT$50 for each ballot exceeding 5 percent of the total number of valid votes.
PFP Legislator Lee Fu-tien (李復甸) said that the party members who spread the rumor were thinking only about themselves and had disregarded the party's interests.
"Chairman Soong has said many times that he is open to the possibility of a KMT-PFP merger and the party is still soliciting opinions. It's a pity that some people are in a hurry to make it happen so that they can run in the legislative election as part of the KMT," Lee said.
The report said PFP Legislator Feng Ting-kuo (馮定國) recently visited former KMT chairman Lien Chan (連戰) to arrange the details of Soong's return. Feng was unavailable for comment yesterday.
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