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Tue, Nov 13, 2001 - Page 4 News List

Dec. 1 elections: Perng duke it out in Taoyuan

Home to CKS International Airport, seven industrial parks and 1.7 million residents, Taoyuan County is the second-largest county in Northern Taiwan. The seat for county commissioner is being hotly contested with KMT candidate Chu Li-luan leading the polls. Trailing Chu is the DPP's Perng Shaw-jiin. The two lawmakers recently spoke with `Taipei Times' staff reporter Crystal Hsu on their visions for the county and why they think they can win. While Perng asserts that his opponent rarely visits his constituents and has had far too little experience in politics, Chu insists that experience is not a prerequisite for success and that it's time Taoyuan had another party calling the shots

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Taoyuan County Commissioner candidate DPP lawmaker Perng Shaw-jiin holds up a doll resembling President Chen Shui-bian at a campaign appearance. The doll told him, ``People should vote for you for county commissioner.''

TAIPEI TIMES FILE PHOTO

Taipei Times: What are the main themes of your campaign?

Perng Shaw-jiin (彭紹瑾): If elected, my team and I will strive to make Taoyuan a safer and cleaner place to live. Polls show that law and order top Taoyuan residents' list of concerns, followed by traffic, education and environmental protection. As a former prosecutor, I know how to fight crime.

Also, the county's main roads and streets are rather narrow compared to those of other cities. We will seek to widen some and extend others in the near future as part of a comprehensive program to rebuild Taoyuan's transportation network.

Additionally, we will make it our goal to help all schools purchase computers so students can learn how to use the Internet in the classroom. We will also give teachers more say in the making of school policy.

Like the rest of the nation, Taoyuan also suffers from rising unemployment. We will work hard to create employment opportunities, open vocational training programs and sponsor job fairs to match job seekers with prospective employers.

Taoyuan is blessed with a number of geographical advantages in that it is close to Chiang Kai-shek International Airport and several popular tourist resorts. We have several large shopping malls as well. We will heavily promote the aviation and tourist industries.

The government is planning to build a trade park that will host Asia's largest exhibition hall here in Taoyuan. When completed, it will bring billions of NT dollars to Taoyuan each year, creating many jobs for local residents.

Of course, we aim to strike a balance between economic development and environmental protection while pursuing these goals.

TT: How is your campaign going thus far?

Perng: So far so good, though all the polls put me far behind my KMT rival Chu Li-luan (朱立倫), by over 10 percentage points. But I don't trust polls because they are not reliable indicators of a candidate's standing and strength.

During the legislative elections in 1995 and 1998, pundits said I would be an also-ran and predicted that I would poll little more than 10,000 votes. In the end, I drew over 60,000 and 46,000 ballots in those two races, out-performing all other DPP candidates in Taoyuan.

History may repeat itself this time. It will take about 400,000 ballots to carry the election [in Taoyuan], and no one can tell for sure what the outcome will be at this stage.

TT: What do you feel are your strengths compared to Chu?

Perng: I'm resolved, experienced, upright and hardworking. We both have doctoral degrees, though in different fields. But I'm more familiar with the county and enjoy more grassroots support. I worked as a prosecutor here for almost 10 years. This experience has given me an understanding of the people in Taoyuan.

Also, during my time as a lawmaker, I diligently served my constituents and regularly visited the communities that make up the county. This deepened my knowledge of what Taoyuan residents really want.

As a DPP legislative leader, I had the opportunity to attend the weekly nine-member meeting headed by President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and participated in the formation of key government polices.

Chu, on the other hand, has none of these experiences. The KMT candidate has only been a legislator for three years and rarely spends time with his constituents.

TT: How are you financing your campaign? Has the DPP been helpful in this regard?

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