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Just who can save James Soong?
During the pan-blue alliance's April 10 protests, People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong once again made defamatory and inflammatory remarks, saying that in Taiwan, there are no mobs, but only a tyrannical government. He then shirked his responsibility and left for some unknown place together with Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan, leaving some of the protesters they had whipped up to fight with police (in Soong's eyes, the police force is a representative of the "tyrannical government") and create yet another instance of bloodshed, following the April 3 clashes.
The general secretaries of the KMT and the PFP refused to acknowledge their responsibility, instead saying that the trouble-makers had been sent by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). This series of base and violent tricks bears the mark of Soong.
Prior to these events, Vice President Annette Lu had issued a statement of the events on March 19 in an attempt to help clarify the shooting of her and President Chen Shui-bian. In the statement, she mentioned that when inspecting her own wound, she had touched the lower part of Chen's jacket and noticed that "it was moist," and that was how she realized there had been a shooting. Soong later made some insinuations, wondering how Lu could touch a man in such a "sensitive spot." Soong's words reminded us of the time the Special Report VCDs came out -- he then cursed "Vile!" six times consecutively, with a stern look on his face. The Special Report VCDs were not vile as Soong claimed, but his insinuations indeed revealed the baseness of his mentality.
Not only does Soong have a base mentality, he also has the mentality of a mobster. When he visited the "hunger-striking" students at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial on April 5, he actually told these peacefully protesting students that if Chen didn't give them a favorable response, "I will join you in a charge on the Presidential Office on April 10." Only following criticism did he say that he would enter the Presidential Office peacefully, and that he opposes violence. But why the need for saying "charge" if he was going to enter the Presidential Office peacefully? Even though Soong has said that he opposes violence, that does not conform with his true thinking. Some PFP legislators, such as Chiu Yi, Shen Chih-hui, Lee Ching-hua and Liu Wen-hsiung, were passionate in their violent language and actions. They kept it up for quite some time, but Soong directed no criticism at them. As PFP chairman, can Soong escape the suspicion of having initiated their actions from behind the scenes? The "Friends of James Soong Association" has said that the thoughts of Chairman Soong are their thoughts. Can Taiwan remain peaceful and calm if he keeps communicating these base and violent thoughts to his supporters? In its reporting on the political situation in Taiwan, the slightly pan-blue leaning Hong Kong-based Apple Daily was forced to say in a report on Soong's statements that, "Today, with a growing Taiwanese self-awareness, we have reached the point where it is time to say goodbye to Provincial Governor Soong.
"Soong, who commanded high levels of public prestige during his time as provincial governor of Taiwan, must now come to terms with his loss of power if he wants to avoid putting his foot in his mouth and loosing his bearings altogether."
Smart as he is, Soong has naturally thought about this and made attempts to save himself from collapse. During the protests on March 27, he took to the stage to say that if bringing the truth to light meant that the election outcome might be overturned, he would be willing to give up his run for the vice presidency and sacrifice everything to assist Lien.
Obviously, Soong wanted to show the magnanimity of his motives and that he was not enamored with power. I've heard it said that some PFP politicians and supporters were moved to tears, and that KMT heavyweights praised him for not making a fuss over his individual position.
But on April 6, during a press conference following Soong's meeting with an American think-tank, he answered a question regarding PFP Legislator Lee Yong-ping's suggestion a few days ago that Lien and Soong run for a seat in the legislature, by saying that it didn't make any sense. Instead, he asked, "Have you ever heard of a president and a vice president doubling as legislators?"
These are really astonishing words because, currently, the outcome of the election is that Chen and Lu won, not Lien and Soong. Where did this talk of Lien and Soong winning come from? And even if Lien and Soong's protests are successful and the election result is overturned, making Lien and Soong president and vice president, didn't Soong say on March 27 that he was willing to give up the vice presidential seat?
How can it be that only a little over a week later, he had already forgotten these words, and was putting himself in a position he has not yet achieved -- although he is doing all he can to think up ways of getting there? This shows us that his talk of giving up the vice presidency on March 27 was nothing but an attempt at tricking the public and stirring up public emotion.
Soong's series of statements are not simply a matter of putting his foot in his mouth. Rather, his words are simply incoherent because he is at his wit's end. He then suddenly came up with "a new thought." On April 10, during another of the pan-blue camp's gatherings, he called for the rebuilding of fair and just core values and the setting up of a New Taiwanese Democratic Alliance (the leader of this alliance will probably be none other than Soong) aimed at uniting more "democrats" without party and faction affiliations and starting up a new democratic movement in Taiwan. Without going on about "New Democracy" and further discussion of Soong's contributions to Taiwan's democracy movement, it is obvious that Soong is preparing to abandon Lien by looking for a new platform through which he can prolong his political life.
The question is: which independents would walk into his trap? Perhaps the Mainlander orators in the army or politicians unwilling to accept that they are past their prime such as [former DPP chairman] Hsu Hsin-liang might cast off their disguises and come to the rescue of Chairman Soong. But unless Soong's abnormal mind is thoroughly turned around, it must really be doubted whether an emergency rescue would be enough to save his skin.
Paul Lin is a commentator based in New York.
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