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Tue, Jan 18, 2000 - Page 3 News List

Chen claims to be `chosen one'

CAMPAIGN TRICKS The KMT has lashed out at Chen Shui-bian for suggesting that he is Lee's anointed successor in a move to target the president's supporters

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER

DPP presidential candidate Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said yesterday that only if the opposition party wins the election can President Lee Teng-hui's (李登輝) expectations of a "peaceful transfer of power" be carried out. He was referring to comments made by Lee last weekend about the transfer of power through the election on March 18.

Chen said Lee vowed to be the first president in Taiwan to transfer presidential power peacefully during his lifetime. He has also advocated that the new president should accomplish a "third wave of democratic reform."

"To transfer power peacefully means the same thing as the shift in power from one party to another," Chen said. "If power is retained by the same party, President Lee's notion will amount to nothing."

Chen said that neither Lien Chan (連戰), the KMT's presidential candidate nor independent candidate James Soong (宋楚瑜) -- both of whom had grown up within the KMT -- could succeed Lee if further democratic reforms are to be achieved.

KMT officials, however, immediately denounced Chen's statements as a campaign ploy, saying that he willfully misinterpreted Lee's words to "trick" KMT supporters into voting for him.

"The meaning of President Lee's words were that Taiwan has already achieved reforms in Taiwan's democratic system, before which power was in the hands of a few people or families," said Eric Chu (朱立倫), a spokesman for KMT presidential candidate Lien Chan (連戰).

Chu stressed that it was normal to see competition among political parties in democratic countries.

He added, however, that "whether or not to allow the ruling party to stay in power should be decided by the people."

"We say the DPP should prove its ability to lead Taiwan, and not try to mislead voters by saying Chen is Lee's successor," Chu said.

Political observers said Lee's words should be regarded as a response to the US concerns that Lee might try to cause some kind of crisis in cross-strait relations to help the KMT maintain power.

"They even predicted that Lee may provoke China into creating tension across the Strait if the KMT looked like it was in danger of losing the presidential election," said Chin Heng-wei (金恆煒), editor in chief at Contemporary magazine.

"Then voters may shift their support to the KMT, out of concern for maintaining stability," Chin said.

"Therefore, Lee just wanted to tell the international community that he will do nothing to hurt Taiwan's democracy," Chin said.

Chin added that Chen is apparently targeting Lee supporters -- that is, those inclined to vote for the KMT because Lee implemented Taiwanese localization through his reforms of the party and the government.

"After the party assets issue was raised by Lien Chan, his relationship with Lee has been strained. So the DPP sees a chance to use this issue to widen what some say is a split between the president and his current vice president," Chin said.

"Su Chih-cheng (蘇志誠), a top aide to President Lee, has said that around seven percent of voters are staunch Lee supporters. And those voters almost all advocate Taiwan's independence.

Therefore, Chen has to avoid criticizing Lee directly, and even create a `successor' image for voters," Chin said.

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