Staff Reporter, in Hualien
Hualien County experienced unusual political excitement yesterday as heavyweights from both the ruling and the opposition parties simultaneously staged appearances in the area to stump for their respective candidates contending for the job of county commissioner.
While President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and several high-profile DPP mayors and commissioners such as Taipei County Commissioner Su tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and Kaohsiung Mayor Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) were seen campaigning alongside with DPP candidate You Ying-lung (游盈隆), the KMT-PFP Alliance nominee Hsieh Shen-shan (謝深山) had his own super-campaigners as well, including of KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰), PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) and a herd of fellow party legislators from Taipei.
Stressing that convenient transportation was the backbone of Hualien's development into a world-class tourist area, Chen, endorsing You's vision for the region's tourist industry. promised that the long-delayed Suao-Hualien Highway would begin construction no later than December.
Chen also pledged to help upgrade Hualien airport to international standards.
"Enhancing Hualien's transportation system will, in turn, help develop the area's tourist industry and lead to more job opportunities for the region's people, who will no longer have to migrate to other cities and counties in search of jobs," Chen said while accompanying You in an informal dialogue with group of local youths.
Noting Hualien's scenic beauty, Chen recommended You's candidacy as "the one which can bring Hualien a new vision, a new start and lead Hualien to a promising future."
While the You camp painted its vision of developing Hualien into a tourist, cultural and biotechnology region, the Hsieh camp's invocation of the so-called "dump-save effect" (棄保效應) or strategic voting was becoming more apparent, as both Lien and Soong yesterday appealed to Hualien's pan-blue supporters not to waste their votes on the election day on Saturday.
"Not a single vote should be wasted," Lien called out, as he and Soong accompanied Hsieh in a motorcade through numerous townships in the county yesterday.
Lien and Soong, citing Hsieh Shen-shan's decade-long experience in public administration, appealed to voters to cast their votes for Hsieh.
On the last weekend day of campaigning before the vote, both camps also each held large campaign rallies last night.
KMT maverick Wu Kuo-tung (吳國棟), running as an independent, yesterday focused his electioneering schedule on consolidating his support among the Hakka community. Wu chided the KMT-PFP alliance's "dump Wu and save Hsieh" effort as a sign that the blue camp lacks confidence in its official candidate.