Election fever was ratcheted up a notch yesterday on “Super Saturday” as the three presidential candidates criss-crossed the nation canvassing for votes, before they rounded up their days with campaign rallies.
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who is seeking re-election, stepped up his campaign efforts in Yunlin and Changhua counties, visiting markets and temples as he sought support in the pan-green strongholds.
Ma attracted a large crowd during his first stop at the largest market in Douliou City (斗六) in Yunlin County as vendors and supporters packed the narrow streets and presented him with foods that represent good fortune, including zongzi (粽子), steamed buns and Chinese radishes.
He later joined his running mate, Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), in a bullet-proof motorcade as they waved to local residents.
Supporters showed their passion by making “V” hand gestures as the motorcade drove by. However, along the way, Ma and Wu came across supporters of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), who waved Tsai’s campaign flags along the road in the predominantly agricultural area, where the DPP has long enjoyed popularity.
During a visit to Dounan Agricultural Association, Ma defended the government’s measures in promoting the development of the agricultural industry and said the cross-strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) would continue to help expand the scope of Chinese markets for local businesses.
“Most of the 18 agricultural products exported to the mainland enjoy zero-tariff treatment thanks to the ECFA. Expanding into the Chinese market will continue to boost the sale of agricultural products and improve the lives of our farmers,” he said.
Ma’s motorcade later traveled to Changhua County as he continued his campaign trip in the south.
Joining local Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislative candidates as they sought to boost their election support, Ma accused Tsai of flip-flopping on the ECFA. He also defended his cross-strait policies as the best way to maintain the “status quo” after criticism from the DPP over major business leaders expressing support for the so-called “1992 consensus.”
“Chairperson Tsai was critical of the ECFA last year and said the local economy would be damaged because of the pact. Now she changed her tone and said she will accept the economic pact … Taiwan would be put in danger if cross-strait relations are handled by a leader who flip-flops about cross-strait policies,” he said.
Ma reiterated his criticism of Tsai’s cross-strait policies later during a large campaign rally in Changhua City, describing her proposed “Taiwan consensus” as a vague concept that lacks substance.
That rally drew thousands of supporters who packed into the campaign site. The KMT mobilized at least 30,000 party members to join the event, according to KMT Culture and Communication Committee director Chuang Po-chun (莊伯仲).
Amid cheers from supporters, who waved Ma’s campaign flags and chanted “Ma Ying-jeou Dong Suan [凍蒜, meaning getting elected in Taiwanese],” Ma questioned Tsai’s ability to lead and promised to bring a “golden decade” if re-elected.
“Taiwan needs a leader who can handle delicate cross-strait relations and help the country survive the European debt crisis. Chairperson Tsai is not ready, but we are,” he said. “The nation’s developments are still under way and it would be unwise to change the leader now.”