Mon, Dec 23, 2002 - Page 3 News List

PFP whip loyal to his boss, his friends

PARTY STALWART Liu Wen-hsiung has stood up for the party chairman in the face of embezzlement allegations and doesn't shy away from rewarding his closest friends

By Crystal Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

PFP legislative whip Liu Wen-hsiung gestures outside the legislature.

TAIPEI TIMES FILE PHOTO

PFP legislative whip Liu Wen-hsiung (劉文雄) never misses a chance to defend his boss, party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜).

After a court recently denied Soong's request to replace former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) with KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) as the recipient of a debt payment, Liu said the ruling upheld Soong's innocence in the Chung Hsing Bills finance scandal.

In 1999, the KMT accused Soong of pocketing its funds during his stint as the party's secretary-general in the early 1990s. The scandal came to light after a large sum of money was found in the bank account of his son.

The scandal is believed to have cost Soong the presidency in 2000, though he insisted Lee put the money in his trust to conduct party operations.

"The court's decision attests to a relationship of trust between Lee and Soong years ago," Liu said last Thursday. "This is why it would not allow anyone else to collect the money."

In an effort to demonstrate his integrity, Soong deposited NT$240 million, including alleged interest payments, with a Taipei court after Lee refused to take the money and blasted Soong's claims as "outright lies."

A week earlier, Liu berated as nonsense a half-page ad by former film director Liu Chia-chang (劉家昌) begging Soong not to harm Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) chances of winning the presidency.

"It is apparently a political gambit paid for by people intent on ruining the KMT-PFP alliance," Liu Wen-hsiung said. "The film director played similar tricks during the 2000 presidential campaign."

Born to a soldier father who fled to Taiwan during the Chinese civil war, Liu Wen-hsiung, 48, made Soong's acquaintance when he was a member of the now-defunct Provincial Assembly between 1989 and 1998.

Zealous and direct, he has gone out of his way to help Soong pursue his political ambitions.

To that end, he criticized Ma for being arrogant and ungrateful after the Taipei mayor declined to share the stage with Soong at a PFP campaign rally.

The second largest opposition party had hoped to take advantage of the event to boost the prospect of its Taipei City Council candidates.

"A front-runner in the race, Ma is most likely to win a second term," Liu said two days before the Dec 7 vote. "Let's not give him too many ballots lest he should take PFP support for granted and grow conceited."

Colleagues said worries that Ma may threaten Soong's 2004 presidential bid prompted the PFP lawmaker to level criticism against the KMT star.

The tactic backfired, however, as Ma supporters flooded PFP headquarters with protest calls. Soong later went down on bended knee at a rally that same evening to plead for pan-blue unity.

The next day, a solemn-looking Liu told reporters he regretted making the remarks about Ma and echoed the need to stay united.

Eager to help Soong in a second attempt for the presidency, Liu will inevitably have more clashes with KMT officials who endeavor to help their boss gain the same political trophy.

Neither Soong nor Lien is willing to play second fiddle, though the two opposition leaders have recently agreed to join forces in unseating President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).

Like most other PFP stalwarts, Liu is a former KMT member who broke away to follow Soong after the former provincial governor entered the 2000 presidential race as an independent.

"Once Soong throws his hat into the ring, I will help him the best I can," he said in June 1999.

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