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Wed, Jan 19, 2000 - Page 3 News List

Chen pushes pragmatism

PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN The DPP candidate says he'll give voters a clear idea of the make-up of his government before they go to the polls on March 18

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER

In a bid to further what he has termed his "peaceful stability card," DPP presidential candidate Chen Shui-bien (陳水扁) yesterday announced that he would publicize some of the names on his coalition cabinet list -- before voters go to the polls on March 18.

Chen has vowed to establish a new government able to boldly carry out political reform, to terminate all privileges in economic development and to peacefully maintain national security.

"People need to know what kind of coalition cabinet we will offer," Chen said. "And we have to show this line-up to Washington and Tokyo, even to Beijing, to prove that we -- the new coalition government -- are pragmatic and easy to communicate with."

His announcement came with just 60 days remaining in the presidential campaign -- a race in which his party believes Chen still holds the leading position among the three major challengers.

DPP campaign staffers said yesterday that they believe the KMT would attack Chen's independence stance in a bid to lower his standing in the polls ahead of the Lunar New Year on Feb. 5.

"Therefore the DPP should give voters more confidence, either through concrete policies or measures, to maintain Chen's position," said Liu Shih-chung (劉世忠), deputy director of the DPP's foreign affairs department.

Chen's close aides also indicated that he has hinted that he might keep some of the current cabinet officials in their positions, especially those with the defense, foreign affairs and cross-strait affairs portfolios -- but that he would not publicize his entire list of desired appointees.

"Chen plans to tell people that such important affairs should not be interrupted only because political power has been transferred to another party," said Ma Jung-cheng (馬永成), a former deputy Taipei mayor and a chief aide to Chen.

"More important, Chen says that policies in such areas should be made with continuity, without `any sudden turns' if he becomes president," Ma said.

Ma stressed, however, that Chen would respect the office of the future premier and allow him or her to decide the make-up of the cabinet.

In addition, Chen yesterday explained what he said were the differences between his proposed coalition cabinet and a so-called "non-partisan government" advocated by independent presidential candidate James Soong (宋楚瑜).

"This `non-partisan government' in fact is a variation of autocracy, under which policy is formulated by either a single person or a select few," Chen said.

"But our coalition government is based on the progressive competition of democratic parties, under which people can choose the better party by judging its campaign platforms and allowing for a shift in power through elections," Chen said.

"After we have spent so much time to establish a democratic system -- of party politics -- in Taiwan, only one candidate has vowed to abandon this system," Chen said.

"But now that Taiwan is ready to terminate one-party rule, we can never go back down the road of autocracy again," Chen said.

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