PFP, KMT heavyweights move closer in Legislature

The China Post staff

Cooperation between the two largest opposition parties is expected to become even closer with the decision of two legislative political heavyweights, one from the Kuomintang (KMT) and the other from the People First Party (PFP), to renew their friendship.

Legislator Wang Jin-pyng, who concurrently serves as president of the Legislative Yuan, will get together with Legislator Liu Sung-pan, a founder of the PFP. Both have been influential leaders of the KMT since they were senior members of the KMT’s Central Standing Committee and of the legislative branch of the government. While Liu served as president of the Legislative Yuan, Wang was his deputy.

But their relationship soured as Wang mounted a challenge to take over Liu’s place two and half years ago. Liu, 70, was elected to the Legislative Yuan from Taichung County in 1973, and subsequently assisted former Taiwan Provincial Governor James Soong establish the PFP. Wang, 60 was first elected legislator representing Kaohsiung County in 1975, and is now one of the five KMT vice chairmen with close ties to both incumbent Chairman Lien Chan and former Chairman Lee Teng-hui. The two were scheduled to have a one-on-one meeting yesterday but the get-together was postponed as Liu received a notice to attend an important meeting of the PFP to nominate the party’s candidates. Both said they have been friends for a long time and it’s not unusual for more personal meetings in the future. But the patching up of the two was interpreted as a necessary step to forge closer relations between the KMT and PFP to cope with new political situations on the island. A hard fight for the presidency between Lien and Soong allowed Chen Shui-bian of the Democratic Progressive Party to walk away with the prize with only about 300,000 ballots over Soong. Chen’s victory also induced the first change of the ruling party in over 50 years in Taiwan and relegated the seemingly invincible KMT to the opposition camp. Awakened by the fact that Lee had made elaborate efforts to prevent a sure-win Lien-Soong ticket and created the chance for DPP’s Chen in 2000, the two gradually mended fences and formed an alliance in the opposition camp. While the KMT and the PFP are coordinating on selecting common candidates in the races for some county chiefs and mayors to unseat DPP members in December, they will generally run their respective legislative elections. Nearly all political leaders agree that there will be no single party holding more than half of seats in the Legislative Yuan since the KMT is expected to lose its majority status enjoyed now. The DPP is seen to maintain its current number of seats while the PFP may make the biggest gain. President Chen has been giving pep talks to other DPP leaders and legislators that the party must win, or at least form an alliance with other political partners, to control over half of legislative seats. The new factor that former President and KMT Chairman Lee Teng-hui is now taking concrete and public actions to form a new political group with an aim to take as many legislative seats as possible to help the DPP, both the KMT and the PFP see the need for even closer cooperation. Huang Chu-wen, a former legislator himself and a member of the KMT’s Central Standing Committee, is the key figure helping Lee form the new political group. He revealed yesterday the group will officially register as a formal political party in August and field over 30 candidates, averaging at least one or two in each constituencies in Taiwan area.