Sun, Dec 18, 2011 - Page 1 News List

2012 ELECTIONS: Candidates spar in final debate

THIRD WHEEL:Ma and Tsai locked horns over the Yu Chang case and Chen Shui-bian, leaving Soong to lay out his policies and question why his rivals did not do the same

By Mo Yan-chih and Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporters

Tsai responded by saying that the KMT has been copying the DPP’s policies, including policies on nuclear power, social housing and the location of the establishment of Kuokuang Petrochemical Technology (國光石化) plants in recent years, showing that it lacked its own ideology and an ability to govern.

Ma appeared to ignore Soong’s first question, which asked Tsai why she had left many questions — including queries about her connection to Chen and his aides, as well as her “Taiwan consensus” and China policy — unanswered in the first presidential debate two weeks ago.

Tsai said she had answered those questions in the previous debate, adding that the matter of granting Chen amnesty would be a decision to make after the final verdict and that the “Taiwan consensus” is a democratic process which could better withstand the test of time than the so-called “1992 consensus.”

Regarding her connections with Chen and Ma’s comment of “Chen Shui-bian behind your back,” Tsai repeated what she had said in the Dec. 3 debate: “Ma stubbornly chooses to live in the past.”

Tsai focused on rising housing prices and stagnant income growth and demanded Ma apologize to the public as she reminded Ma that he regarded rising housing prices as one of his major achievements when he served as Taipei mayor.

The rise of housing prices in northern Taiwan has been contained by a series of countermeasures, including the luxury tax and stricter tax inspection, Ma responded.

The most important thing for the government to do “was not to control or restrain the prices, but to make them reasonable,” Ma said, adding that new legislation which ensures property taxation, registration of market prices and increased social housing would help solve the issue in the long run.

Housing prices in some areas outside Taipei City have actually fallen, Soong said, adding that both Tsai and Ma “have lived in Taipei for too long to realize what is happening in other places.”

Soong echoed Ma when he said that it is imperative to restrain speculation rather than reduce housing prices.

Soong also raised concerns about the nation’s worsening wealth gap during the cross-examination, and challenged both Ma and Tsai to offer solutions to the problem.

In response, Tsai promised to establish a solid social-welfare system with sufficient manpower and financial support to take good care of those who are in need.

She again raised the issue of skyrocketing housing prices in Taipei among other cities, and slammed Ma for failing to tackle the issue during his eight-year term as Taipei mayor.

“Without proper housing policy, many people are forced to leave Taipei or live in poor conditions. To solve the problem, it requires consistent attention from the government,” she said.

Ma refuted Tsai’s comments, arguing that he did not have enough authority to tackle the national issue as a former mayor.

“Therefore I immediately introduced the luxury tax and looked into property hoarding after taking over the presidency, solving the issues that I was not able to in the past,” he said.

Ma defended his government’s efforts in raising the budget on social welfare to more than NT$420 billion (US$13.8 million) while offering more than 350,000 job opportunities, promising to do more to promote social welfare measures through legislation and subsidies.

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