PFP lawmakers facing tough decisions


Mon, Jan 01, 2007 - Page 3

People First Party (PFP) lawmakers are facing a critical time if they want to run on KMT tickets in the next legislative election. The deadline for them to join the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) is drawing near and Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) is on vacation in the US following his ignominious defeat in the Taipei mayoral election last month.

Some have decided to join the KMT without the blessing of Soong -- who in any case has claimed that he would quit politics -- while others are determined to stay in the party and compete against KMT candidates in the legislative election at the end of the year.

The party, which boasted 46 lawmakers in 2001, saw its strength in the legislature decline to 34 in the 2004 election and weaken even further to 22 last year after some deserted the party for the KMT.

The PFP's fortunes have plummeted since Soong lost the 2004 presidential election as the running mate of KMT chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and ended up a distant third in last month's Taipei mayoral election.

Knowing that his chances of winning the mayoral election were negligible, Soong had offered before polling day to withdraw from the race and throw his weight behind KMT candidate Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) in return for a KMT promise to support several PFP candidates in this year's legislative election by refraining from naming its own candidates in certain constituencies.

However, his offer was spurned by KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who said the proposal would be unacceptable to KMT lawmakers.

Although Ma agreed to cooperate with the PFP in the legislature election, KMT lawmakers who are fighting for a chances to run on the party ticket as the seats in the legislature will be cut from 225 to 113 this year, are reluctant to see outsiders trying to muscle in for the party primaries.

They oppose Ma's proposal to cooperate with the PFP in fielding candidates with the best chance of winning the election, as there will be only one seat for each constituency in the next legislative election.

The negotiations on cooperation between the KMT and the PFP ground to a halt after Soong left for the US.

Although the KMT has not closed the door altogether on PFP lawmakers joining it and competing in the party primaries, would-be candidates must have been party members for at least four months before the primaries.

As the KMT is set to start primaries to select its candidates in May, the deadline for PFP lawmakers to join KMT is the end of this month.

As the prospects are dim for the two parties to work out an agreement for cooperation in the legislative election, PFP Legislator Lu Hsueh-chang (呂學樟) has decided to join the KMT at the beginning of this year to continue his political career.

Two other PFP lawmakers -- Hsu Yao-chang (徐耀昌) and Chung Shao-ho (鍾紹和) -- said they were mulling whether to follow Lu's example.

Legislator Liu Wen-hsiung (劉文雄), who competed unsuccessfully against the KMT candidate for Keelung mayor in the 2005 local government election, said he would not run on the ticket of any party other than the PFP, vowing to woo supporters as a critic of Ma rather than as a KMT ally.

Legislator Shen Chin-hwei (沈智慧), who offended KMT leaders by competing against KMT candidate Jason Hu (胡志強) in the 2005 election for Taichung mayor, applied to join the KMT six months ago but was ignored.

She said, however that she would not give up the chance to serve her constituents even if rejected by the KMT.

Legislator Lee Hung-chun (李鴻鈞) said he was mulling whether to quit politics after his term expires at the end of next year. However, the architect-turned-politician said any KMT candidates without his blessing would have to fight an uphill battle in Taipei County in the upcoming legislative race.