Unable to consolidate their advantage in opinion polls, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), People First Party (PFP) and New Party yesterday staged a low-key rally outside Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall to mark the 138th birthday of the founding father of the Republic of China.
Despite the overcast sky, the gathering drew about 1,000 supporters of the pan-blue camp's pro-unification stance. But the event came as the KMT-PFP alliance's ticket for next year's presidential election was gradually losing ground to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
Political observers have credited President Chen Shui-bian (
According to a survey by the pro-pan-blue camp, Chinese-language United Daily News yesterday, the gap between a DPP ticket consisting of Chen and Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) and the pan-blue ticket of KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) was four percentage points. The Chen-Lu ticket received 38 percent support, the Lien-Soong ticket 42 percent.
If Chen teamed up with Taipei County Commissioner Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), the pairing outscored Lien and Soong by 40 percent to 38 percent.
A poll released by the China Times last Thursday showed that Chen and Lu had pulled ahead of the pan-blue ticket for the first time, 35 percent to 34 percent.
Previous polls, even those conducted by the DPP, showed Chen and Lu much further behind.
During yesterday's rally, Lien called on the public to safeguard the Republic of China (ROC) after former president Lee Teng-hui (
"When Dr. Sun founded the ROC 92 years ago, his vision of creating a country for the people, by the people and of the people was daring and inspiring," he said. "As his staunch believers, we're duty-bound to unify for the benefit of the nation and the people."
Next March's presidential poll is a key moment, Lien said, because Taiwanese people will have to decide whether to let the country continue down the path set by the founding father or run the risk of seeing the demise of the ROC.
"I'm calling on you to let the torch of democracy continue to shine bright and to build this land into a strong bastion to safeguard peace, freedom and democracy," he said.
Echoing Lien's rhetoric, Soong said that it was important to fashion a new Taiwan rather than wipe out the ROC.
"The ROC is the best guardian angel of Taiwan," he said. "There wouldn't be a Taiwan today if the ROC disappeared in 1949 when the KMT troops relocated to the island.
"What we need right now is compromise among ethnic groups, peace across the Taiwan Strait and prosperity around the nation, not the disappearance of the ROC itself and a rewriting of the ROC Constitution," Soong said.
For the past two months Chen has been promoting the idea of rewriting the Constitution. On Tuesday, he set a date for a referendum on a new constitution, Dec. 10, 2006.
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