Sun, Jan 08, 2006 - Page 3 News List

DPP candidates spar in debate

VYING FOR THE CROWN The three hopefuls to head the party were split on how closely the DPP should work with the government in shaping the nation's policies

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

The three Democratic Progressive Party chairperson candidates -- former Changhua County commissioner Wong Chin-chu, left, Legislator Chai Trong-rong, center, and former Presidential Office secretary-general Yu Shyi-kun -- join hands before their first televised debate yesterday.

PHOTO: WANG MIN-WEI, TAIPEI TIMES

During their first televised debate yesterday, the three Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairperson candidates all backed a push for a new constitution and a referendum on direct cross-strait air links -- but disagreed on how closely the party should work with the government in setting policy.

The debate among the three candidates -- former Presidential Office secretary-general Yu Shyi-kun, Legislator Chai Trong-rong (蔡同榮) and former Changhua County commissioner Wong Chin-chu (翁金珠) -- was the first opportunity the three have had to hash out their campaign platforms in public. It was held at the Taipei Civil Service Department Institute.

The by-election, which will be held on Jan. 15, will elect a new chairperson for the party after former chairman Su Chen-chang (蘇貞昌) resigned over the party's miserable performance in the local government elections.

The three endorsed President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) proposal for a new constitution, as well as a referendum on direct air links proposed by Chinese Nationalist Party Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).

"I support the referendum proposal. As to whether to open direct air links, I think the government and opposition parties should seek the best solution to the issue based on the interests of the country and the people," Wong said.

Yu also endorsed the proposal, but added that direct air links should be allowed if they are established on a country-to-country basis.

Chai proposed further referendums on a new constitution, arms procurement bills and the KMT party assets issue. Chai said he fully supported the idea of changing the national title in a new constitution.

"The new Constitution should rectify the name of our country, changing the title from the Republic of China to Taiwan," he added.

Wong promised to lead the DPP to push for a new constitution that can "win the respect of the Taiwanese people."

Yu agreed with Chai's suggestion, and said that name rectification would be the solution to country's confused identity.

Yu also said that a collective decision-making system for the DPP and the government helped the party to monitor the government's policies. Should the government's policies stray too far from the party's core values, the party could even propose a referendum to overturn them.

But Wong and Chai both opposed Yu's suggestion that the party and the government should collectively make strategic decisions.

"President Chen used to serve as DPP chairman, but the [collective decision-making] system failed, and I am against such a system because it may cause a split within the party," Chai said.

Echoing Chai's opinion, Wong said the party should be independent from the DPP government administration.

"The party and the government should work together but do different things, with the DPP acting as a monitoring power," she said.

In her concluding remarks, Wong criticized Yu for being too close to Chen, and called on party members to elect someone who can regain public trust in the DPP in the wake of its terrible performance in the local government elections.

Chai, on the other hand, proposed eliminating factional divisions within the party so that it could become more unified, and rebuilding a clean image for the DPP.

Yu promised to lead the party to win the 2008 presidential election by staying true to the party's core values.

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