Sun, Apr 10, 2011 - Page 1 News List

DPP hopefuls refine platforms

PASSIONATE PLEA:Presidential contender Hsu Hsin-liang, who used to be chairman of the party, called for the doors to be cast wide open to Chinese money and students

By Vincent Y. Chao  /  Staff Reporter

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential hopefuls join hands with the acting DPP chairman ahead of the televised presentation of their election platforms yesterday. From left to right are: former premier Su Tseng-chang, former DPP chairman Hsu Hsin-liang, former vice premier Tsai Ing-wen and acting DPP Chairman Ker Chien-ming.

Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times

The three Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential hopefuls refined their campaign platforms yesterday in a vibrant and passionate appeal for support amid close poll numbers and with only days left before the primaries end.

In the first of four televised policy platform addresses, the candidates differed over how they would tackle problems they said the country faced, including a growing income gap, the social welfare situation and the economy.

However, they all focused on how their potential administrations would tackle cross-strait issues and the relationship with Beijing.

The discussions highlighted some of the main challenges the party expects to face as it heads into the presidential election.

Frontrunners Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), who took a leave of absence as party chairperson to run for president, and former premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) refrained from making any new policy announcements, but listed a long line of issues they said needed to be tackled, while defending their records in government.

Tsai said future DPP cross-strait policy would be more “steady and moderate” than that of former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), while Su said the DPP had learned from its mistakes and reflected on its performance since it lost the presidency in 2008.

“I believe that the DPP’s abilities to handle cross-strait relations exceed the current administration’s. We can responsibly and viably handle the ties [with China], which will be normalized and stabilized,” Tsai said. “I have confidence that I can be a firm and steady leader.”

However, she was also careful to say that many of the policies she had laid out had been ongoing since before 2008, when she led the Mainland Affairs Council and was vice premier, citing the DPP’s “three small links” policy and cross-strait charter flights as examples.

“These policies would have continued if the DPP had continued governing past 2008,” she said.

Su tackled the touchy issue of Taiwan’s sovereignty, suggesting that he favored a stronger separation between Taiwan and China.

He said that Taiwan was already “undisputedly” a sovereign democracy called the Republic of China.

“And any changes to this require a wide consensus from all of society,” Su said. “I believe that the most important thing is that Taiwan is united [internally] and that we can present a common front abroad.”

The most emotional performance came from Hsu Hsin-liang (許信良) when he said that Taiwan should “open up wide to Chinese money, students and tourists” — true to his election announcement that he did not expect to win, but hoped to influence election policy.

“The single most important issue is Taiwan’s economic growth,” Hsu said.

“I care about cross-strait ties because I care about their economic impact. Only with growth can we craft and fund better social welfare policies,” Hsu said.

His participation in the discussion was a wildcard for Tsai and Su, who offered more restrained remarks closely modeled on what they have been saying for the past few weeks. Both candidates made references to Hsu’s remarks, but not to each other’s.

The televised appearance -offered the three an equal platform and a chance for the public to see them directly compare their ideas for the first time. It was broadcast live on FTV News and moderated by FTV host Hu Wan-ling (胡婉玲).

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