Fri, Oct 10, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Hints that Chen might pick Lu met with dismay

By Chang Yun-Ping  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) strong hints in recent days that Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) will be his running mate next year have aroused fierce debate within the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

Whether Lu really is Chen's chosen partner, his comments could be a test balloon to see how much furor the opposition will raise and allow the cacophony to subside before the DPP makes its official presidential nomination in December, analysts said yesterday.

Chin Heng-wei (金恆煒), editor in chief of Contemporary Magazine, yesterday said Chen's comments suggesting that Lu will be his running mate again are designed to "test the water to see how strong the opposition is in order to determine whether he could calm the protest in two months before the vice presidential candidate is announced in December."

However, judging from Chen's remarks, "it is basically pretty clear that Chen has made up his mind to pick Lu as his partner," Chin said.

Political commentator Hu Chun-hsin (胡忠信) agrees that Chen's comments are a clear message that Lu is his choice.

"Chen made suggestions on two occasions in the past two days -- one at a religious function honoring Matsu and the second at the state banquet honoring the president of Gambia -- that Lu would be his running mate. Since Chen has spoken before the gods and president of Gambia about Lu, the consequences would be very serious if he fails to eventually choose Lu," Hu said.

Hu said that by picking Lu, Chen could prevent an imbalance of power within the DPP as other party heavyweights who have been talked about as possible running mates -- such as Taipei County Commissioner Su Tseng-chang, Kaohsiung Mayor Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) and Premier Yu Shyi-kun -- would no longer be competing for the role of Chen's successor and would remain on the same power level within the party.

Various DPP factions continued to squabble yesterday about whether Lu would be an appropriate running mate and why Chen has been hinting he will stick with her, something that has apparently come as a big surprise to his party comrades.

The New Tide Faction has been the strongest voice against picking Lu again and the major supporter for choosing Taipei County Commissioner Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌).

"The choosing of a vice presidential candidate is part of the party's internal affairs, not President Chen's personal affair only," said DPP Legislator Duan Yi-kang (段宜康), the faction's convener.

"The joint decision-making mechanism is one of the DPP's greatest assets. Although Chen, as the DPP's presidential candidate, has the right to choose his running mate, he should take into consideration of the party's opinions on the issue in order to seek support for his decision," Duan said.

However, "if President Chen really picks Lu as his running mate, no matter how depressed party officials might be about the decision, we would still stump for them, even with tears in our eyes," Duan said.

DPP Legislator Sheng Fu-hsiung (沈富雄), a senior official of the Justice Alliance, with which Chen is also affiliated, said picking Lu would be an unwise choice as she is not likely to boost Chen's re-election chances.

"If Chen wants the party to make an all-out effort to stump for the presidential campaign, he shouldn't have used such a little trick. If his pick could boost his chances, no one would have problems with his decision. However, if Chen's choice is contentious and disagreeable, it won't be conducive to the party's cooperation for the campaign," Sheng said.

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