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Taiwan Nationalists Discuss Ouster

September 20, 1999

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) _ A popular candidate in Taiwan’s presidential race should be kicked out of the ruling Nationalist Party because he defied the leadership and viciously attacked other Nationalists, a party leader said Monday.

The Nationalists’ powerful disciplinary committee plans to announce Tuesday whether maverick candidate James Soong should be ousted, a move that could split the party’s support before the March vote to replace President Lee Teng-hui.

The panel’s ruling was expected to be considered Wednesday by the party’s main decision-making Central Standing Committee.

Soong, the front-runner according to most polls, defied the party in July when he decided to challenge the Nationalist candidate, Vice President Lien Chan, who is in third place behind the candidate from the opposition Democratic Progressive Party, former Taipei Mayor Chen Shui-bian, according to polls.

On Monday, Chien Wei-chang, head of the disciplinary committee, told reporters that the party has already built a case against Soong that would justify his ouster.

``Sooner or later a clear line has to be drawn between Soong and the party,″ Chien said.

Soong did not speak to reporters Monday, but in the past he has pointed to his popularity, saying that voters want him to run and he must serve the people.

Soong was Taiwan’s provincial governor until the position was phased out last year in a government downsizing. In his old job, Soong enjoyed a reputation for being a hands-on politician who toured the countryside, asked people what they needed and usually delivered on his promises.

Even though Soong has angered party leaders, they thus far have held off on sanctioning him, possibly fearing it would make Soong a martyr and help him attract greater support from disaffected Nationalist voters.

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