Sat, Jul 17, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Chen travels to Kaohsiung for by-election campaign

By Chang Yun-ping and Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTERS , IN KAOHSIUNG

National Policy Advisor Alice King, third left, and TSU Chairman Huang Chu-wen, third right, yesterday hold hands with the party's candidates for the Kaohsiung City councilor by-election, scheduled for today, calling on the public to vote for them to strengthen ``Taiwan consciousness.''

PHOTO: CHANG CHUNG-YI, TAIPEI TIMES

Scorning the vehement criticism that the Kaohsiung City councilor by-election is tainted by candidates with blood ties to corrupt politicians, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday appeared in Kaohsiung to campaign for the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) candidates, and appealed to Kaohsiung's voters to help the pan-green camp win a majority on the Kaohsiung City Council.

"The Kaohsiung City Government needs a solid pan-green majority to support the administration," Chen said yesterday.

The DPP, which has recently been under fire for nominating candidates who have family ties with former city councilors who were convicted of taking bribes in the vote-buying scandal surrounding a former council speaker, has chosen the strategy to propagandize the city government's administrative performance as an appeal to the DPP's by-election prospects and played down the focus on the merits of individual candidates.

Chen yesterday led a line-up of officials, including Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), Premier Yu Shyi-kun, Presidential Office Secretary-General Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and Kaohsiung Mayor Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) in a large rally last night to drum up support for the party.

Hsieh yesterday said the pan-green camp will need eight or nine seats total in order to achieve the majority on the city council.

STRATEGIC ALLIANCE

Hsieh said only 26 city councilors out of the total 44 are in office, and 15 councilors from across party lines have formed a strategic alliance with the city government.

The Kaohsiung City Council has a total of 44 seats and the by-election today will find replacements for 18 city councilors, most of whom were convicted during the election.

Political observers said the voter turnout will be a critical factor in the pan-green camp's performance in the election.

Former DPP Councilor Lee Kun-tseh (李坤澤), who recently quit his post in order to take part in the year-end legislative elections, said if the voters' willingness to cast their ballots is too low, it will encourage vote-buying -- a situation which will help the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and People First Party (PFP), since they have highly developed local organizations and networks with which to promote such practices.

Meanwhile, on the eve of the by-election, infighting between the DPP and Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) continued, as the TSU urged Kaohsiung's voters to distinguish who are the candidates with genuine integrity in the upcoming election, saying that it is an important opportunity for Kaohsiung to clear its name of the disgrace of "black gold."

Along with four candidates, TSU Chairman Huang Chu-wen (黃主文) and presidential adviser Alice King (金美齡) yesterday held a news conference to try and stir up enthusiasm for the party, as the public has been apathetic about the election.

Huang urged his party's ally, the DPP, to unite with the TSU to ensure all candidates nominated by the pan-green camp will win in the by-election, since the TSU has been supporting Chen since the party was founded in 2001.

RESPECT

Huang said that the TSU showed its respect for the DPP by only nominating four candidates in four voting precincts in this by-election, and also by canceling a campaign rally out of consideration for the victims of the flooding caused by Tropical Storm Mindulle.

"What the government should do is to enhance its crackdown on vote-buying, rather than mobilizing so many governmental chiefs," Huang said.

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