• Directory of Taiwan

Chen calls for unity in primary

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday urged the candidates in the Democratic Progressive Party's presidential primary to avoid sniping at each other with "extreme criticism" for the sake of DPP solidarity.
The comment came a day after three DPP presidential hopefuls blasted the fourth, Premier Su Tseng-Chang, for abusing his power and administrative resources to favor local leaders in the competition for the party's nomination.
According to local Chinese-language newspapers, Su had planned to allocate a total of NT$26 billion to finance local development projects in Tainan City and Chiayi County in exchange for the support of the mayor and county magistrate in the primary.
Responding to their criticism, Su said the projects were part of an overall development plan that has been in the works for a long time and denied abusing his administrative power to improve his chances in the primary. There has also been speculation that the president is favoring the premier's bid for the presidential nomination, but Chen insisted yesterday that he had no favored candidate, calling them all "outstanding."
He also appealed for more civil conduct among the hopefuls.
"The primary is temporary and the election is just a process ... there will be only one DPP candidate. Everyone should take it easy," the president said.
Chen said the four contenders should stop groundlessly criticizing each other, adding that as all four had once served as local chiefs, they should be more considerate to others.
"You cannot complain if other local chiefs back up others, because they don't only have to support you," he said.
"You can use a knife to hack others (in the primary) if necessary, but control your strength, or it will be too late to unite the DPP if you badly slaughter your competitors and hurt the whole party."
According to Chinese-language newspapers, Su expressed his intention to resign to the president Friday night, but Chen reportedly kept Su in the post.
One of the three contenders, Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), responded sarcastically to Chen's decision, saying, "Su is extremely talented. No wonder Chen has no choice but to keep Su in the Cabinet." She urged Chen to make it clear whom he supports.
It was Lu who responded with the harshest criticism of Su on Friday after the report emerged regarding the NT$26 billion in project subsidies. Lu called it the biggest vote-buying case ever. Su said he felt sorry to hear that other contenders had described what he did as "bribing voters by promising government investments in local development projects," adding "DPP supporters will not be happy to see a three-against-one competition."
Defending Su, Kaohsiung County Commissioner Yang Chiu-hsing (楊秋興) said, "it was an insult to me when the other candidates said Su was trying to 'bribe' voters."
Tainan Mayor Hsu Tian-tsair echoed Yang's opinion, saying "bribe" was too serious an accusation.
Former senior advisers to the president, Peng Ming-min (彭明敏) and Wu Li-pei (吳澧培), said on Monday that DPP primary candidates should focus on getting across their political views on national affairs and strive for majority support.

Updated : 2021-05-08 00:06 GMT+08:00