Sat, Apr 14, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Chen tells four hopefuls to end their war of words

UNITY The president urged the jockeying candidates to refrain from nitpicking over each other's administrative record and turn the party primary into a political contest

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Troubled by the recent war of words between the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) four presidential contenders and their supporters, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday urged them to exercise restraint and strive for party unity.

In a statement issued by the Presidential Office yesterday, Chen said although it was natural for the presidential hopefuls to compete for the primary, it was not desirable "to turn the primary into a political battle."

The president also encouraged discussions of public issues among the four, but added that they should not be used as tools to attack each other.

"There should be no difference in DPP members' approach because Taiwanese consciousness is the only policy all party members should uphold," the statement said.

Chen also urged the four presidential aspirants -- Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), DPP Chairman Yu Shyi-kun, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) -- not to point fingers at each other over their administrative policies in the past seven years, because all four had served in an official capacity and cannot break away from the team.

"This primary does not concern only the DPP. It is also an important step in Taiwan's democratic progress," he said. "The whole nation is watching us. We have to insist on a gentleman's competition to achieve something that is praiseworthy."

Su and Hsieh's camps have been involved in a war of words since former Kaohsiung acting mayor Yeh Chu-lan (葉菊蘭) questioned during the DPP's Central Standing Committee meeting on Wednesday whether the government had incorporated the DPP's ideals of social justice, ecological sustainability and promoting local culture into its policies.

Although Yeh, who earlier this week declared her support for Hsieh, said she was not targeting any specific individual, Su's supporters viewed her comments as an attack from Hsieh's camp.

Earlier yesterday, the DPP caucus echoed the president's call.

The caucus put up a notice in its press room yesterday in which caucus whip Wang Sing-nan (王幸男) said that anyone planning to hold a press conference to attack other DPP members would be prohibited from using the press room.

Wang also authorized caucus assistants to turn off the lights and microphones in the press room if anyone were to violate the order. "We are worried that any mistake we make now may hinder us from being united during election time," another caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) told a press conference, adding that the dispute among the four had given rise to discontent among grassroots supporters.

"Some supporters have called to express their concerns that the DPP may not be able to win next year's presidential election," Wang said.

"I would like to urge the four aspirants not to forget that they are competing for a presidential primary and that as the future president, they need to learn tolerance," DPP Legislator Yeh Yi-chin (葉宜津) said at the press conference.

DPP Legislator Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇), a member of Hsieh's campaign, confirmed yesterday that Hsieh had told his supporters to hold their tongue.

"He is very worried that we may disappoint the public and damage the DPP's unity. Therefore, he will no longer respond to any attacks," Hsu said.

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