Taiwan's second-largest opposition party may lose some members next month, as it was reported yesterday that six People First Party legislators plan to withdraw their membership from the party and join its political ally the Kuomintang over the Lunar New Year holidays, with even more to follow in their footsteps towards the end of 2006.
The six PFP lawmakers that may leave the party were last confirmed as Lin Yu-fang (林郁方), Sun Ta-chien (孫大千), Diane Lee (李慶安), Lin Te-fu (林德福), Lee Yong-ping (李永萍) and Chen Chih-pin. The report further indicated that five more PFP members are expected to leave towards the end of the year.
Hwang Yih-jiau (黃義交), the convener of the PFP legislative caucus, claimed he had heard no such thing, but if the rumor were true, he would respect the members' decision to leave the party.
Huang stressed that the handful of PFP legislators leaving the party does not represent a growing trend, noting that these lawmakers have decided to leave the party to join the KMT at this point in order to seek to nomination by the KMT as candidates in the year-end Taipei and Kaohsiung city council and mayoral elections.
"Selecting a party is just like choosing a mate; every person will make a decision based on their own considerations, and this should be respected," Hwang said, adding that the PFP will "cherish its relations with the outgoing party members," despite the fact that their decision to leave will affect the party's morale.
However, Huang also pointed out that the "pan-blue alliance" consisting of the KMT, the PFP and the New Party in the Legislature was presently a "fragile majority" that, without support from some independent lawmakers, would not overcome the legislators from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party and the Taiwan Solidarity Union.
Huang further suggested that the PFP members who planned to leave should personally present their decision to Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) during the legislative recess, which lasts from January 14 to February 6, so as to reduce the impact their departure would bring to the party.
On the other hand, PFP lawmakers Liu Wen-hsiung (劉文雄), Lee Hung-chun (李鴻鈞) and Chang Hsien-yao (張顯耀) slammed the report, which appeared in the Liberty Times, declaring it was a ploy by the pro 'pan-green' newspaper to confuse the public and destroy the PFP.
"I was quoted in the report, but I had not been asked to give comments," said Chang. He also pointed out that Huang's remarks were dated.
Meanwhile, KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said he was sure that Soong understood the inclinations of the PFP members as personal actions to realize their dreams in another party. Ma added the KMT would neither attempt to draw PFP members towards it, nor deny anyone's wishes to join the KMT.