Ma denies instigating PFP defections

NO KNOWLEDGE: Although the KMT leader said that he had heard the rumors of defections, he insisted that his party had not initiated the exodus

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Wed, Jan 04, 2006 - Page 3

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) acknowledged yesterday that he had heard about a possible exodus of People First Party (PFP) legislators to his party, but denied that the KMT had initiated the move.

Speculation began emerging on Sunday that six PFP lawmakers who are in favor of a KMT-PFP merger, including Lin Yu-fang (林郁方) and Sun Ta-chien (孫大千), may defect to the KMT in a bid to increase their chances of running in next year's legislative elections.

Ma said he had discussed the issue during his meetings with PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜), during which he stressed that the KMT would never encourage PFP members to leave their party.

"The KMT has no control over PFP members. We can't prevent them from returning to the KMT ? It is about personal preference," he said yesterday.

Ma said that about 1,000 to 2,000 people join his party every day, and that the KMT will welcome any new members.

PFP caucus whip Hwang Yih-jiau (黃義交) and the party's director of policy research Chang Hsien-yao (張顯耀) said they will respect the decisions of party members, but added unless joining the KMT guarantees a person a nomination in the legislative elections, they do not think such a move would be beneficial to the defectors.

"Selecting a party is just like choosing a mate; every person will make a decision based on their own personal considerations, and this should be respected," Huang said yesterday at the Legislative Yuan.

While giving their blessings to those who may be leaving, PFP legislators Lee Hung-chun (李鴻鈞) and Liu Wen-hsiung (劉文雄), who oppose a KMT-PFP merger, yesterday urged Ma to learn from Soong's experience.

"One day when your halo begins to dim, these people will be the first to leave your side. Those who have criticized the PFP will also condemn you in the future," Liu said yesterday at the press conference.

In related news, it emerged yesterday that former independent legislator Su Ying-kuei (蘇盈貴) joined the KMT in November in a bid to increase his odds for the Kaohsiung mayoral elections later this year.

Ma yesterday confirmed the news, but insisted that any new member would enjoy no privileges and should follow the party rules.

"Anyone who wants to run in the Kaohsiung mayoral election must first take part in the KMT primaries," he said.