Sat, Dec 19, 2015 - Page 1 News List

KMT agrees to DPP’s debate format

DIFFERENT STYLES:One of the presidential debates is to allow questions posted by media representatives, while the other is to take questions from different civic groups

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Eric Chu, left, Democratic Progressive Party presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen, center, and People First Party presidential candidate James Soong are scheduled to participate in a presidential debate on Dec. 27, and then a second on Jan. 2.

Photo: Composite image by Taipei Times

The three political parties that are fielding candidates in next month’s presidential election yesterday reached a long-awaited consensus on the dates for televised presidential debates, after the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) agreed to the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) proposed schedule to hold a vice presidential debate first.

In a press release issued yesterday afternoon, KMT spokesperson Lin Yi-hua (林奕華) said that the KMT was willing to accept the DPP’s proposal to carry out a televised debate between vice presidential candidates on Dec. 26, followed by two presidential debates on Dec. 27 and Jan. 2.

“We agreed to the DPP’s preferred sequence of debates to prevent the party from using it as an excuse to sabotage the long-stalled debates and jeopardize the public’s right to information,” Lin said.

During the second round of negotiations over presidential debates on Monday, Lin said that the DPP’s representative, Legislator Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁), proposed that the order of the three debates the parties have agreed to hold should be presidential, vice presidential and presidential.

Representatives of the three parties and the hosts of the events all consented to the sequence at the third round of negotiations on Thursday, saying it would be in greater accord with public expectations, Lin said.

“To our astonishment, following the conclusion of Thursday’s negotiations, the DPP accused us of overriding the consensus reached during the meeting and attempting to use technicalities to delay the debates,” Lin said.

“Even so, the KMT is still willing to make compromises for the sake of the general public, because we place the holding of the debates above everything else,” Lin said, adding that the DPP should refrain from leveling more unsubstantiated accusations to impede the occurrence of the debates.

Following the KMT’s agreement, the DPP confirmed that the three debates would be carried out in accordance with its proposal and that all of them would be held in the afternoon.

The debates are to be jointly hosted by nine media channels and outlets, including the Public Television Service, SET-TV, Chinese-language newspapers the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister paper), Apple Daily, United Daily News and China Times, as well as the Central News Agency, Google and online media platform Watchout.

DPP Department of News and Information director Alex Huang (黃重諺) said one of the presidential debates would allow questions posted by media representatives, while the other would take questions from representatives of civic groups.

Huang said that candidates would also be required to answer questions raised by members of the public through an online platform called “President, may I ask a question?” (總統,給問嗎?), which was jointly launched by Google, Watchout and Apple Daily.

The media outlets are expected to submit proposals for the format of the vice presidential debate on Monday, Huang said.

The latest round of negotiations came close to collapsing, as the KMT had previously objected to the idea of letting a vice presidential debate come before a presidential one, arguing that it was against customary practices.

According to KMT presidential candidate Eric Chu's (朱立倫) campaign spokesperson Hsu Chiao-hsin (徐巧芯), two debate date proposals were tendered during negotiations.

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