Wed, Nov 24, 2004 - Page 3 News List

DPP struggles to keep up with president

ELECTION RHETORIC Chen Shui-bian has set a blistering pace on the campaign trail trying to keep the pan-blue camp on the ropes. Some in the DPP are gasping as well

By Huang Tai-lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

What kind of headline-grabbing rhetoric can be expected from President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) when he stumps for Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislative candidates this weekend?That's the question hovering over many people's minds.

Chen's aggressive campaigning over the past two weeks -- and the variety of subjects he has raised -- has not only left the pan-blue camp hard-pressed, but left some members of the pan-green camp struggling to keep up with him.

DPP legislative candidate Chang Ching-fang (張清芳), seeking a seat in Taipei County, has complained that "President Chen is running too fast" in term of throwing out campaign subjects in the run-up to the Dec. 11 polls.

Since hitting the campaign trail on Nov. 12, Chen, who doubles as the DPP's chairman, has grabbed center stage with issues ranging from setting up a Taiwan truth investigation committee to allegations of a "soft coup" attempted by the pan-blue camp to demanding the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) change its party emblem or else he would try to amend the National Emblem Law in order to allow the government to force the party to make the change.

His combativeness and ideas have stirred up heated discussion in the media and among voters.

When asked about grumbling within the DPP about Chen's pace in launching campaign topics, Secretary-General of the Presidential Office Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said: "President Chen is looking at the whole issue from a high, broad point of view."

"All issues thrown out by President Chen have gone through careful consideration and reflection," Su said.

"Although some people have said that Chen's pace is too quick for them to catch up, generally speaking, his moves are helpful to the [pan-green's] electoral outlook as a whole," Su said.

A majority of DPP members have given the thumbs up to Chen's rhetoric.

"I think the range of issues launched by President Chen are helpful to our electoral outlook," said DPP caucus whip Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯).

A quick review of recent news coverage of the campaign indicates the pan-green camp appears to have gained the upper hand in directing the campaign debate. Both the KMT and the People First Party (PFP) appear to be stuck in a defensive mode, reactive rather than pro-active.

Chin Heng-wei (金恆煒), editor-in-chief of Contemporary Monthly magazine, said that the pan-blue camp only went on the offensive when KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) challenged Chen to have the DPP propose a referendum be held on the issue of unification or independence alongside the legislative polls.

"By introducing such an idea, the pan-blue camp hoped to gain territory and dominate the campaign discussion," Chin said. "Chen spiked the move with his reminder to Lien that it was the pan-blue camp who passed the so-called `bird-cage' Referendum Law (公民投票法) last November, which restricts the issues that the public can vote on in a referendum."

Instead of scoring a point for the pan-blues, Lien's referendum remarks revealed his ignorance of the Referendum Law, Chin said.

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