《TAIPEI TIMES》 PFP mulled asking Ko to lead party, join race: Soong
People First Party Chairman James Soong, right, and his presidential campaign spokeswoman Belle Yu talk to the media after a radio interview in Taipei yesterday. Photo: Liu Hsin-de, Taipei Times
By Shelley Shan / Staff reporter
People First Party （PFP） Chairman James Soong （宋楚瑜） yesterday said that the party last year considered asking Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je （柯文哲） to lead it and become its presidential candidate in the Jan. 11 elections, adding that he did not know Ko would eventually establish a party himself.
“I had no idea that he would form a new party in August, which is not a good strategy,” Soong said, referring to Ko’s founding of the Taiwan People’s Party （TPP）.
Soong revealed details of his interactions with Ko in an interview with political commentator Clara Chou （周玉蔻） in her morning radio talk show.
The PFP had been favoring Ko since before he was elected as mayor in 2012, Soong said.
“Last year, we started talking about our plans for the presidential election. At the time, I felt I needed to gradually phase out from the political scene in Taiwan. We then began to consider others to whom we could pass the torch of party chief and who could represent us in the presidential election. We eventually decided that if Ko wanted to form a partnership with us, he would be the party’s presidential candidate and we would recommend that Taipei Deputy Mayor Vivian Huang （黃珊珊） serve as his running mate,” Soong said.
Ko has never explicitly said that he was seeking the PFP’s nomination, Soong said.
When the two finally agreed to meet on May 1, Ko only asked when the PFP would announce its presidential and vice-presidential candidates, Soong said, adding that Ko did not ask him whether he would be running nor did he say that he would run himself.
As some have compared Soong to an Olympic athlete, as he has been running in presidential elections for 20 years, he said that he is running once again because people are looking for change, adding that people should not forget that he has made crucial contributions that helped Taiwan become a democratic nation.
On the party’s support for Hon Hai Precision Industry Co founder Terry Gou’s （郭台銘） now-dropped presidential bid, Soong said that what Taiwan needs are elites who know how to govern and have a thorough grasp of future trends in technology and the economy.
“What people are looking for is a capable leader who can implement policies, not a boxer beating the air,” he said, adding that people are “sick and tired” of having to choose between two equally bad political parties, referring to the Democratic Progressive Party （DPP） and Chinese Nationalist Party （KMT）.
People would be underestimating the PFP if they think that the only reason that he is running this time is because the party has to secure seats in the Legislative Yuan, Soong said.
Taiwan has become an increasingly diverse society and voices of small parties should be heard, he said, adding that the party’s competitors are the DPP and KMT, not the TPP.
As for pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong and how they might affect cross-strait relations, Soong said the key to cross-strait relations lies in communication, rather than confrontation.
He is the better communicator when compared with the two other presidential candidates, Soong said.
As the PFP is to announce its list of legislator-at-large nominees today, Soong said that the nominees would be chosen in a transparent manner.
They should either be advocates of issues concerning socially disadvantaged people or work as professionals in technology or other disciplines, he said.
However, Gou would not be on the list, Soong told reporters after the interview.
He also said that PFP Legislator Lee Hung-chun （李鴻鈞） would not be the first name on the list.
“He is one of the top-rated legislators and has broken legislative deadlocks many times, but the list must include highly recommended individuals from all walks of life, not just those from the PFP,” he said.
Latest polls by the United Daily News, TVBS and Apple Daily for the presidential candidates showed that the approval ratings varied between 42 percent and 45 percent for President Tsai Ing-wen （蔡英文） of the DPP, between 24 percent and 37 percent for Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu （韓國瑜） of the KMT, and between 6 percent and 8 percent for Soong.