The cash-strapped People First Party’s (PFP) intention of using prerecorded telephone vote canvassing in lieu of televised advertisements for its presidential campaign hit a snag when the company it contracted suddenly terminated the deal on Tuesday, a PFP official said.
The PFP reached an agreement with the company that it would pay NT$7.5 (US$0.25) per recording, with NT$2 going back to the PFP. The system was slated to be operational starting yesterday.
PFP spokesperson Wu Kun-yu (吳崑玉) revealed that the deal was called off was due to pressure from the company’s major stockholders forbidding the company from being “pro-Soong,” adding that the sales manager that signed the contract with the PFP was forced to resign.
Wu added that he suspected someone or some faction was placing restrictions on the party ever since PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) in September announced his intention to run in the presidential election.
The latest incident showed that “not only was this someone or some faction trying to cut off the cash flow of the PFP, it was also interfering in the PFP’s small-sum fundraising efforts and cutting off the PFP’s channels of advertisement,” Wu said.
According to sources, the PFP’s fundraising operations have not been smooth, with donations by corporations ranging from NT$1 million to NT$2 million considered high.
To avoid “getting in trouble,” the corporations who donate to the PFP do not ask for a receipt, the sources added, saying that an owner of a company who was visibly rooting for Soong in Yunlin County “coincidentally” received a notice several months ago to pay back taxes dating from five years ago.
To come up with campaign funding, it is rumored that Soong recently withdrew the NT$240 million returned to him after the closing of the Chung Hsing Bills Financial case and is using the fund to pay various election expenses.
Soong was accused of embezzling funds from the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) when he was still a member of the party. After a failed attempt to return the money to the KMT, Soong asked the Taipei District Court to take custody of the money.
A court decision in May last year ruled that Soong could retrieve the funds.
Translated by Jake Chung, staff writer