Tue, May 08, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Chen promises more active role before elections

NO LAME DUCK While chatting with the DPP's presidential hopefuls, the president warned against underestimating the challenge posed by Ma

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday said he hoped to play a role in the run-up to next year's presidential election, while acknowledging a pledge made by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential contenders to unite after the member vote.

"I hope to serve as a helper, collaborator and mediator," he said. "I will not tell anybody what to do, but I will not become a lame duck president either."

Many things need to be accomplished during the remainder of his term, Chen said, adding he would work harder to accomplish those tasks.

Chen made the remarks while receiving the DPP's four presidential hopefuls at the Presidential Office yesterday afternoon.

Chen called on the party to avoid underestimating the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and its presidential candidate, former KMT chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).

"Don't take your opponent lightly," he said. "The KMT is still a strong party and Ma a formidable opponent. Don't think unity will ensure victory because solidarity only helps boost our confidence."

In addition to the KMT, Chen said he expected Beijing would increase its pressure on the government in the next four years.

Chen dismissed talks that he had played the so-called "presidential card" during the presidential primary because there was no such thing as "presidential card." Chen was referring to a report published in yesterday's edition of the Chinese-language China Times, which claimed that Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), one of the DPP's presidential aspirants, had cashed in on Chen's alleged endorsement to help boost his odds of winning the primary.

Su obtained 33.4 percent of the votes, while Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) 44.66 percent.

Citing Hsieh's withdrawal from the second stage of the primary in preparation for the 1994 Taipei mayoral election, Chen said Hsieh had set a good example as he had acted in the interest of the party.

The party's other three presidential aspirants have followed Hsieh's example by dropping out of the primaries to allow him to run in the presidential race, the president said.

Chen said he was glad all four candidates had honored an agreement signed on March 13, pledging they would refrain from violating the party's election code by running as independents if they lost in the primary.

While DPP Chairman Yu Shyi-kun yesterday proposed to amend the party's election code so that the presidential candidate could be decided on through party member vote only, Chen urged Yu to think twice because it was a complicated and sensitive issue.

Meanwhile, Taiwan Society secretary-general Chet Yang (楊文嘉) yesterday criticized the DPP's solidarity as "superficial" and expressed concerns over Hsieh's more conciliatory tone.

"I'm afraid the four contestants have agreed on the power allocation and gotten what they want," he said.

Yang was one of the four top administrators of the group who resigned yesterday after Su lost the membership vote. The others were Taiwan Society vice president Tseng Kei-hai (曾貴海), Northern Taiwan Society deputy director Chen Gau-tzu (陳昭姿) and Taiwan Bugle Society committee member Frances Huang (黃光芹).

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