The four candidates for the Democratic Progressive Party`s presidential nomination exchanged fire on national identity positions in a last debate Thursday night, but joined in calling for unity in to support the final nominee in the general election against Chinese Nationalist Party nominee and former chairman Ma Ying-jeou.
Former premier Frank Hsieh, Premier Su Tseng-chang, DPP Chairman Yu Shyi-kun and Vice President Annette Lu participated in the third and last political forum held in the Kaohsiung City Labor Administration Center Thursday, two days before Sunday`s nationwide voting by party members for candidates in the presidential and legislative primaries and public opinion polls to be conducted next week.
The final tally, with a 30 percent weight given to the votes of party members and 70 percent weight for opinion polls, will decide the nomination.
The four candidates drew lots to set the speaking order, with Hsieh first, followed by Lu, Su and Yu with the order reversed in concluding remarks.
Citing the harm caused to the people and investor confidence and political risk perceptions by the refusal of the Kuomintang-controlled Legislature to pass the 2007 central government budget, Hsieh stated that the most important significance of next year`s presidential election would be to ``bring an end to Taiwan`s democratic civil war`` and reaffirmed his advocacy of ``coexistence and cooperation`` to deepen Taiwan`s democracy
and ease ethnic antagonism by ``negotiating`` a majority in the next Legislature if elected.
``Only with a majority will we be able to pass reform bills and the budget, secure political stability and step into the world,`` Hsieh stated.
The former premier also reaffirmed that his description of the current constitution as a ```one-China` constitution`` was intended to highlight why Taiwan needed to enact a new constitution and slammed Su`s statement that the constitution was a ```one Taiwan` constitution`` for undermining the motive force for reform.
Declaring that the upcoming election would be a ``final conflict between a Taiwan regime and a China regime,`` Hsieh stated that while he accepted the existence of the Republic of China constitution, he intended to ``remove the `one China` articles,`` but declared that the KMT and its presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou ``wants to keep them.``
In his concluding remarks the former premier also expressed opposition to the proposal by DPP Chairman Yu to replace the DPP`s May 1999 ``Resolution on the Future of Taiwan`` with a more radical resolution to turn Taiwan into a ``normal country.``
Vice President Annette Lu devoted her remarks to stressing the gravity of the threat to Taiwan posed by the rapid expansion by the People`s Republic of China of its military forces and its deployment of missiles and other offensive forces targeted at Taiwan.
The vice president also stated that the alleged weakness of the Taiwan economy was due to the lack of domestic capital investment ``as everyone is rushing to China`` and said she would foster a good investment environment and address the festering issue of central and local government debt and an impending fiscal crisis.
In her concluding remarks, Lu also appealed to DPP members and supporters to allow her to realize ``a transfer of power between genders`` in the upcoming presidential poll.
Premier Su Tseng-chang stressed the differences between the DPP and the KMT on the question of Taiwan`s national identity and sovereignty.
``Today we see that KMT continued to identifies with China and advocates `ultimate unification,` while we identify with Taiwan and aim to deepen Taiwan-centric values and are determined to march forward,`` Su stated.
Declaring that ``there is no room for a national leader to have ambiguity on Taiwan`s national position and sovereignty,`` Su declared that he could not agree with Hsieh`s notion of that of a ``one China` Constitution`` and said that such a position ``would provide a pretext`` for Beijing to denigrate Taiwan.
Instead, Su declared that ``we have a `one Taiwan` constitution`` which covers the territories of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu and 23 million people.
Su also stated that the KMT had refused to allow the Legislature to approve the NT$1.6 trillion central government budget for five months, but brought 31 of its legislators to Beijing for a ``economic and trade forum`` with the PRC`s ruling Chinese Communist Party.
The premier also chided Ma for ``spending all of his time`` defending himself in Taipei District Court on charges of embezzling NT$11 million in special mayoral alliances ``while we are busy struggling for Taiwan.``
Su devoted his concluding remarks to apologizing for any ``lapses`` or personal attacks and declared that, ``even if some people are unhappy,`` it was essential that everyone support the winner and ``the team must stay together and Taiwan must win`` and realize that ``we are not our enemy, but the KMT is.``
The strongest rhetoric was issued by DPP Chairman Yu Shyi-kun who began by citing media reports that Hsieh or Su would cooperate to ``dump`` Yu or that Hsieh and himself would cooperate to ``dump`` Su.
Yu denied any consideration of such alliances but called on party members to ``dump the middle and protect Taiwan`` by rejecting what he said were the calls to ``protect the status quo`` by both Su and Hsieh.
Yu launched a sharp attack on both Hsieh and Su, declaring that ``everyone must use a high standard to test these four candidates`` and that ``what is the most important is to state clearly the position on national identity and where they will take Taiwan.``
Reaffirming his position that there was a struggle between ``different lines`` in the DPP, Yu charged Hsieh with only wanting to revise the constitution that was enacted in China and declared that he himself advocated that ``we must enact a new constitution.``
Yu said Hsieh`s notion of ``one China constitution`` violated the DPP`s May 1999 Resolution on the Future of Taiwan and also stated that while Su`s position that the framework was a ``one Taiwan`` constitution was in keeping with the resolution but only protected the status quo.
Instead, the DPP chairman stated that Taiwan faces isolation and denigration because ``we are not yet a normal country`` and said that the May 1999 resolution should be replaced by a ``resolution for Taiwan to become a normal country`` and called for the enactment of a new constitution, the adoption of the name of Taiwan and entry into the United Nations under the name of Taiwan.
Yu declared that realization of the ``normalization`` agenda was possible ``only if the DPP had complete governance`` but also stated that his nomination and election would send a message to the international community that the 23 million people of Taiwan ``want independence and want Taiwan to be a normal country.``
In contrast, Yu said that the election of Su or Hsieh would tell the world that the Taiwan people wanted the ``status quo`` and warned that Ma`s election would tell the international community that ``the 23 million Taiwan people support unification.``
The last debate featured the only disruption in order as, just after DPP Acting Chairman Trong Chai concluded introductory remarks, Lin Yu-fang, producer of the controversial video ``Extraordinary Videodisk,`` raised a white banner reading ``(President)Chen Should Retract (his) Black Hand,`` evidently
to protest allegations that the president had been supporting special candidates.
Lin and a collaborator were pushed out of the auditorium by security personnel and DPP party workers, ending the only such disruption to take place in the four debates.