Thu, Apr 19, 2007 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Potential candidates should behave

The on-going spat between Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), who are vying for the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) presidential nomination, is attracting a lot of attention these days.

Following news on Friday that Hsieh had topped a public poll ahead of the party's other three primary contenders, Su's camp quickly called into question the poll's credibility and blasted Hsieh's camp for "faking" the results and manipulating the media.

The two aspirants continued to exchange fire the following day during a televised debate, arguing over the Suhua freeway project and the recent controversy surrounding the planned demolition of the Losheng (Happy Life) Sanatorium.

The heat turned up as proteges of Su and Hsieh engaged in feuds throughout the week, accusing each other of resorting to election tricks to attack and discredit their rivals.

Both camps on Monday unveiled polls conducted by their own people, each claiming more support than the DPP's other three contenders.

The rivalry is a healthy part of campaigning.

However, when the campaign includes nasty personal attacks, it is time to stop before emotions eclipse reason and harm party unity.

The escalating infighting between Su and Hsieh's camps has also led the party to pass a resolution that prevents party members who are running for the legislative or presidential primary from publicizing survey results before the primary, which is scheduled for May 30.

According to the DPP's primary system, a party member vote will be held next month, which will account for 30 percent of the contender's final score. A series of public opinion polls will be conducted that will account for the remaining 70 percent.

Given the DPP's registered party members only number about 250,000, the presidential hopefuls should bear in mind that even if they win the party primary, they still need to face the general electorate -- most of whom are not party members.

A campaign platform alone cannot win approval for the candidate from the general public. Character, wisdom and reputation are just as important for anyone wanting to be the nation's leader.

The manner in which these presidential aspirants conduct themselves as well as the wisdom, if any, that they demonstrate in the run up to the party's primary are in full view of the public.

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) said on Tuesday that it seems the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) is set to nominate former KMT chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) as its candidate for next year's presidential election.

The general public will take into account the tacticts displayed by Ma who, indicted by prosecutors in February on corruption charges, tacitly agreed to the party's repeal of its "black gold exclusion clause," enabling him to qualify as the KMT's candidate.

Ma's reputation has been hurt by his party's cynical actions, and even though he is likely to retain support for the nomination, the impact on him personally could be felt when the real contest begins.

Likewise, voters will be watching the behavior of the DPP's presidential candidates during the primary. It's important for the candidates to remember that what happens may still be important next year.

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