KMT confirms Ma, Shih meeting, denies conspiracy

QUESTIONABLE LINKS?:The DPP charged that Shih Ming-teh's anti-president campaign was driven by the KMT and had links to the tycoon Chen Yu-hao

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

Sat, Aug 19, 2006 - Page 3

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday confirmed that party Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) had met with the organizer of an anti-President-Chen-Shui-bian (陳水扁) campaign last week to exchange opinions on the matter.

The party, however, denied that Ma and the campaign initiator and former chairman of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Shih Ming-teh (施明德) agreed on any secret plans.

"No plots were hatched during the meeting between Chairman Ma and Shih. Chairman Ma did not make any promises to anyone, either," KMT spokesman Huang Yu-chen (黃玉振) said yesterday.

Huang made the remark in response to a story in the Chinese-language Liberty Times yesterday, which claimed that Ma, who had previously said that he would not join or interfere with the campaign, met with Shih last Thursday and told the former DPP chairman that he had found a solution that would allow him to stage a sit-in protest 24 hours a day from Aug. 23 to Sept. 7.

The Taipei City Government's Bureau of Public Works' new construction department and Taipei City Police Department on Thursday granted Shih's camp permission to stage an around-the-clock sit-in protest in front of the Presidential Office on Ketagalan Boulevard.

While declining to confirm his secret meeting with Shih, Ma yesterday insisted that he had never made any promises.

Meanwhile, a group of DPP lawmakers yesterday said Shih's anti-Chen campaign was driven by the KMT, and linked with fugitive tycoon Chen Yu-hao (陳由豪) who in the runup to the 2004 presidential election had made a vow "to destroy Chen."

"I know that Shih met with Chen Yu-hao on July 26 in Thailand. They conspired to bring [President] Chen down," DPP Legislator Lin Kuo-ching (林國慶) said.

Chen Yu-hao, former chairman of the Tuntex Group who had escaped to the US, is listed as one of Taiwan's 10 most wanted fugitives.

Chen Yu-hao has accused the president of accepting millions of dollars in illegal political donations during the campaign for the 2004 presidential election.

"As Chen [Yu-hao] now holds a Chinese passport and has a close relationship with China, we suspect China might be involved in Shih's anti-Chen campaign," Lin said.

In response, Shih's campaign spokeswoman Ho De-fen (賀德芬) yesterday afternoon said that Shih did meet with Chen Yu-hao in Thailand late last month, but the meeting had nothing to do with the anti-Chen campaign.

"Chen Yu-hao had made a political contribution to the DPP when Shih was chairman. It was just a meeting .... no big deal. Shih went to Thailand to gain a better understanding of mass movements, not to meet up with Chen Yu-hao," Ho said.

Ho also held a press conference, announcing that as of yesterday, its had raised almost NT$81 million (US$2.48 million) in funds. Former DPP chairman Hsu Hsin-liang (許信良) also led a group of former DPP members to show their support for Shih's campaign at the conference.

In a separate press conference held by Shih's camp yesterday, former lawmaker Wang Lie-ping (王麗萍) said: "We have received reliable reports that the pan-green camp is planning to assassinate"Shih.

In response, DPP Legislator Gao Jyh-peng (高志鵬) said the "planned assassination" was fabricated by Shih's camp.

"They fabricated the news because it will be easier for [Shih's] camp to reach its goal of [raising NT$100 million (US$3.06 million) from 1 million people] come true," Gao said.

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