Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (
Shrugging off doubts about Siew's ability to win votes as an old face in the political spectrum with one failed vice presidential bid in 2000, Ma expressed confidence that Siew's expertise in finance and economics would help the country's economy.
"Taiwan needs a moderate pilot to save the economy. I want to find a problem solver, not some cool young person with little experience," Ma said on Saturday.
Analysts, however, said that the Ma-Siew ticket reflected the KMT's failure to cultivate new talent, and were divided over whether Ma would benefit from sharing the ticket with Siew.
"It's an old habit of the KMT to promote technical officials. Ma's choice of Siew failed to present voters a pleasant surprise and further highlighted the party's lack of young talent," Shih Cheng-feng (施正鋒), a professor at Tamkang University, told the Taipei Times.
Born in Chiayi in 1939, Siew became the first Taiwan-born premier during former president Lee Teng-hui's (
Siew was former party chairman Lien Chan's (
"Siew will not be a deciding factor for Ma's performance in the election. The issue is why Ma turned to the older generation to find a running mate. The lack of talent is what the KMT should be worrying about," Shih said.
Ku Chung-hwa (
"I don't think you can count on one person to improve the economy ... I don't think Ma gained much by choosing Siew. He made a safe and conservative move," Ku said.
Ma's passiveness when first seeking Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (
Ma formally offered Wang the vice presidential ticket on May 9 amid speculations about a serious rift between the two. The legislative speaker, however, accused the party of spreading rumors that he had been making deals with party Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (
"Ma's camp doesn't care who his running mate is and I agreed that the battle is ultimately Ma's. The DPP will still have to deal with Ma regardless of who his running mate is," Wang said at the time.
Lee Shiao-feng (李筱峰), a history professor at Shih Hsin University, however, said that Ma had made a smart choice, as Siew's popularity among both the pan-blue and pan-green camps and his connections in the south would boost support for Ma.
"Ma wanted to avoid the issue of unification and independence in the election, and Siew's reputation as an economic expert and native Taiwanese from the South will definitely be helpful," Lee said.
While DPP presidential candidate Frank Hsieh (
Meanwhile, Lee urged the DPP not to overlook Siew's attractiveness to some pan-green voters.
Although a KMT heavyweight, Siew was criticized by the pan-blue camp for resigning as KMT vice chairman in 2005 and accepting President Chen Shui-bian's (
Siew was also selected by Chen to represent Taiwan at the 2000 APEC meeting, but was prevented from doing so after the Cabinet's abrupt announcement that it would suspend construction of the controversial Fourth Nuclear Power Plant.
"Although I don't think Siew will be able to improve the economy, he has a good reputation and Ma will benefit from choosing him," Lee said.
Lee also suggested that, in order to counter the Ma-Siew ticket, Hsieh should choose former vice premier Yeh Chu-lan (
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