Sat, Dec 06, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Groups want Hakka heavyweight

ELECTION Yeh Chu-lan, chairwoman of the Council for Hakka Affairs, is President Chen Shui-bian's best choice as a running mate, pro-independence groups said

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Leaders of pro-independence groups yesterday continued their campaign to persuade President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) to nominate a Hakka ethnic heavyweight, rather than Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), as his running mate for next year's presidential election.

Chen said on Thursday night that Lu is still his "best assistant" and asked the public to keep supporting him and Lu in the presidential campaign.

Despite the president's statement, some pro-independence groups held a joint press conference yesterday to promote a "Chen-Yeh ticket," urging Chen to choose Yeh Chu-lan (葉菊蘭), chairwoman of the Council for Hakka Affairs, as his running mate.

"The Hakka community is the second largest among Taiwan's four main ethnic communities, but no Hakka has been promoted to the post of state leader," said Tzeng Kuei-hai (曾貴海), chairman of the Southern Taiwan Society.

This group, along with the Northern Taiwan Society and Central Taiwan Society, which all are organized by pro-independence scholars, have repeatedly expressed concern about Chen's running mate.

Tzeng, who represented the three groups at the press conference, said that Lu could become an unstable element in Chen's campaign.

He said that Yeh, who is a senior Hakka leader and has made outstanding contributions to Taiwan's democratization, is Chen's best choice to boost the DPP's low support rate in the central and northern regions.

Yeh said in response that what concerns her at the moment is helping Chen's campaign, rather than any personal interests.

Senior presidential adviser Koo Kuan-min (辜寬敏) publicly criticized Lu this week, saying that her political ambition would hurt Chen's administration if they are elected to the presidency on a joint ticket.

"Lu is a very ambitious politician, and Chen will become a lame duck early in his second term if he allows her to serve as his running mate," Koo said.

"During the period of senior personnel conflicts in the Presidential Office, I was authorized by President Chen to comfort Lu," Koo said.

"However, I found that she was really stubborn and refused to accept other people's ideas," he said.

Another senior adviser to the president, Peng Ming-min (彭明敏), the DPP's presidential candidate in 1996, said yesterday that he agreed with Koo's remarks and also supports the idea of a "Hokkien-Hakka ticket."

"Many different suggestions have been proposed to the president, but once he makes his choice, we will all firmly support his final decision," Peng said.

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