President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) attended the opening game of Japan's Daiei Hawks exhibition series in Kaohsiung yesterday, but he sat amid other fans in regular seats instead of in the VIP rooms with opposition politicians.
The national team won last night's game 8-1, thanks in large part to Huang Chung-yi's (
After the game, Chen told his aides that the "A-bian curse" had been lifted, referring to the fact that at previous games he had attended, the home team always lost.
"This time we paid for our own tickets and it was worth it," Chen said.
The fact that Chen sat in the bleachers at the Cheng Ching Lake Stadium in Kaohsiung County had aroused considerable controversy earlier in the day, because he was accused of snubbing the pan-blue camp, which is sponsoring the series, and whose members were in the VIP suites.
"We did not receive a formal invitation until this afternoon," said Presidential Office spokesman James Huang (黃志芳). "The Presidential Office had already bought 30 tickets for seats behind third base for President Chen and some young volunteer social workers to cheer for Taiwan's team."
"President Chen wants to enjoy the game just like every happy sports fan," Huang said.
Some People First Party (PFP) law-makers criticized Chen in the legislature yesterday, saying he should not have turned down the invitation from the series sponsors, including Taiwan's Amateur Baseball Association, the PFP and the Chinese Nationalists Party (KMT)
"It is not necessary for the president to purposely avoid being seen with other politicians," the lawmakers said.
Huang, however, stressed that the Presidential Office had received just a single invitation to the games, and "it was delivered this afternoon by a representative of the PFP, only a few hours before the first game."
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) said yesterday that the PFP-KMT alliance had spent a huge amount of money to promote the exhibition series with the Japanese team but their real purpose was to boost their presidential campaign.
"They therefore displayed a rude attitude toward the president," Tsai said.
Chinese Taipei Baseball Association (CTBA) Secretary General Richard Lin (林宗成) said that the exhibition games, two in Kaohsiung and one in Taipei, were arranged by his group and the Daiei Hawks.
However, Lin sai details such as promotional activities, sponsorship and ticket sales were handled by a public relations company which had signed a contract with CTBA.
"This company got NT$ 40 million in sponsorship from the PFP and KMT together," Lin said. "All promotional processes, including deciding who would throw the first ball -- which the CTBA had no right to decide -- should therefore be decided by the biggest sponsor."
PFP Chairman James Soong (
Chen, however, politely shook hands with Soong and Wang and then went to his seat in the bleachers.
Soong and Wang were supposed to throw the first ball in last night's opening ceremony, during which Soong gave the keynote speech. He praised Taiwan's Aboriginal athletes, saying they played important roles on the national team.