Mon, Mar 21, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Decision to cancel rallies was a mistake, Ma admits

STAFF WRITER

Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said yesterday that the decision to cancel the pan-blue camp's presidential election-eve rallies last year had been made by blue camp leaders together, while admitting that in hindsight, the decision had been a mistake.

Ma was trying to deflect criticism from People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) and Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), who is also his rival in the race for the chairmanship of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).

On Saturday Wang claimed that cancellation of the rallies after the shooting of president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) the day before the election, was responsible for the pan-blue's loss and was a mistake.

Earlier in the week Soong said that it was Ma -- in his role of manager of the blue camp's presidential campaign -- who had urged that the pan-blue camp cancel the three mass rallies it had planned for the night of March 19, 2004 after the shooting occurred and that the decision to cancel the rallies had been made by Ma.

Ma told reporters yesterday, however, that the decision to cancel was a joint decision by all those involved in leading the pan-blue campaign, including himself, Wang, KMT Secretary-General Lin Feng-cheng (林豐正) and KMT Chairman and presidential candidate Lien Chan (連戰).

At the time, Ma said yesterday, the details concerning Chen and Lu's shooing were unclear. While it was known Chen was not in danger, no one knew if his condition would worsen, Ma said. As a result, the pan-blue camp decided that it would be more prudent to cancel the rallies, he said.

However, "if we had known," said Ma, of course the rallies would not have been canceled.

Ma also criticized Chen's comments yesterday supporting the creation of a second special investigation committee to investigate the shooting and Chen's suggestion that Lien and Soong should serve as the committee's conveners.

"This sort of talk, shouldn't it have been said a year ago?" said Ma yesterday.

Meanwhile, the People First Party (PFP) said in response to Chen that Soong, as one of those directly affected by the shooting attempt, did not feel it would be suitable for him to be the committee's convener.

The pan-blues continue to assert that the shooting, which police believe was carried out by one of their own supporters, was staged by the Chen-Lu campaign to win sympathy votes.

In the past year they have provided no evidence to back up their accusation.

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