Fri, Jun 23, 2006 - Page 3 News List

KMT chairman panned for lackluster TV address

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) speech on Wednesday in response to President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) address the night before reflected a rational and composed style, but his soft appeal could prove less effective than Chen's, analysts said yesterday.

Liao Da-chi (廖達琪), a professor of political science at National Chungshan University, said the two politicians' war of words could be described as "Lawyer Chen" versus "Professor Ma."

While Chen is skilled in attacking his opponents, stirring up crowds with emotional words and avoiding major issues, Ma's remarks were sincere, but lacked strength, Liao said.

"Chen's speech was impassioned and appealed effectively to fundamentalist DPP members. But Ma's remarks were not passionate enough," she told the Taipei Times.

"I am not saying that being rational and moderate is not good, but this made his speech sound weak," she said.

During Ma's half-hour speech, which was followed by a press conference, the KMT chief denounced Chen for shirking responsibility and failing to give detailed explanations about the recent scandals involving the first lady. He also explained the KMT's decision to push for the recall motion.

On Tuesday night Chen had said he was "willing to sacrifice himself for the country if his `horrible death' would help to ease the grudges certain people held against him," an allusion comments Ma had made.

Ma did not put enough energy and strength into his speech, and thus failed "to excite the people's anger towards Chen" or persuade them to support the KMT's recall motion, Liao said.

Shih Cheng-feng (施正鋒), a political science professor at Tamkang University, agreed that Ma appeared more defensive in his speech than Chen did.

"Although Ma avoided making too long a speech, which Chen did, he failed to clearly explain some issues, such as his alleged relations with Fubon Financial Holding Co," Shih said.

Ma has been accused of involvement in the merger of a Taipei bank and the company. When he was asked about it during his post-speech press conference, he dismissed the accusation by saying he did not profit from the merger.

Commenting on Ma's remark that the KMT would not consider the People First Party's (PFP) call for the Cabinet to resign in the event that it proves impossible to recall Chen, Liao said the decision was correct because the Cabinet resignation proposal may not appeal to the general public.

"The KMT finally made a smart decision. I don't think the public would agree with the proposal, which might help boost the reputation of Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) or bring Su and Chen closer together," she said.

Ma said the party would spare no effort to push for the passage of the recall motion in the legislature now, but that it would not rule out the possibility of demanding the Cabinet's resignation in the future.

Liao criticized Ma over the timing of the recall motion. She said it was too soon to make such a call, given that no evidence has been found to prove the first couple's direct involvement in the corruption scandals.

"Now the motion is causing political clashes and confrontations between ethnic groups ?With no solid evidence or information, it's better for the party to focus its efforts on the recall motion, rather than thinking about other proposals," she said.

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