Wed, Mar 15, 2000 - Page 1 News List

Election heats up

TOUGH TALK The DPP and KMT camps were at each other's throats yesterday over allegations of deals with China and questions of who was whose heir

By Chiu Yu-tzu, Lin Chieh-yu and Lauren Chen  /  STAFF REPORTERS

As the election enters its final few days, rallies like this one yesterday for Lien Chan in Chungli, Taoyuan County, are becoming the focal point of increasingly harsh exchanges between the KMT and DPP candidates.

PHOTO: CHIANG YING-YING, TAIPEI TIMES

Taiwan's political temperature rose several degrees yesterday as the KMT and DPP traded fierce accusations and insinuations of unfair play in the runup to Saturday's vote.

While campaigning in Miaoli last night, DPP candidate Chen Shui-bian claimed that the KMT had dispatched senior officials to Beijing to ask authorities there for quick military action -- possibly military exercises near Taiwan -- in order to influence the election.

The KMT is "conspiring with outside forces against their own people," he said.

Chen provided no evidence to back up his claims, however, and the KMT's official spokesman immediately dismissed them as "unfounded slander" and "empty talk."

"Now that the campaign has entered into its final stage, the opposition is spreading rumors about the KMT," Huang said.

Huang said voters would surely make a "rational deci-sion," adding the KMT would never contemplate such a thing.

Earlier in the day, the election seemed to be degenerating into a name-dropping competition as the KMT tried to overtake the DPP in projecting itself as the party favored by Taiwan's social and business elite -- while at the same time repudiating claims that Chen Shui-bian was the natural choice to continue President Lee Teng-hui's (李登輝) legacy.

President Lee himself denied that there was anything resembling a "Lee Teng-hui path" for Taiwan, insisting there was only the road of freedom and democracy.

"In fact, the so-called `such-and-such's line' can only emerge from an authoritarian regime, such as the `Mao Zedong (毛澤東) line' under the Chinese Communist government," Lee said.

The president's comments came as a response to statements made the previous day by one of this closest friends, Chi Mei President Hsu Wen-lung (許文龍), who endorsed DPP presidential candidate Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) as being the best man to "continue Lee's course."

Lee was speaking to more than 200 representatives from the International Youth Chamber of Commerce and the Lions Club who visited the Presidential Office yesterday.

The president said he firmly disagreed with "certain people" when they talked at length about the so-called "Lee Teng-hui path."

"I must reiterate that I am against concocting such a groundless and authoritarian slogan," Lee said. "It is not only inconsistent with Taiwan's interests, but also meaningless."

Hsu, the founder of Chi Mei Corp -- the biggest ABS supplier in the world -- is well known for his management skills, a passion for art and a devotion to Taiwan independence.

As a confidant of the president's, Hsu's endorsement of Chen is widely believed to have negatively affected Lien Chan's (連戰) campaign.

The KMT candidate struck back yesterday with a list of his own, however, containing the names of 100 prominent figures in business and academic circles.

They include Koo Chen-fu (辜振甫), chairman of the Straits Exchange Foundation (海基會) and patriarch of the Koo's Group, Wang Chung-yu (王鍾渝), chairman of China Steel Corp (中鋼), Tsao Hsing-cheng (曹興誠), CEO of United Microelectronics Corp (聯華電子), and several presidents of national universities.

None appeared at Lien's press conference yesterday, and speculation centered on the fact that some of the names on the list had already endorsed the DPP's Chen.

They included Lin Hsin-yi (林信義), vice chairman of China Motor Corp (中華汽車), and the presidents of National Yang Ming University, National Chung Cheng University, and National Chao Tung University.

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