Mon, Jun 25, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Analysis: KMT's ticket reflects aging party: analysts

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) on Saturday ended months of speculation by announcing former premier Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) as his running mate.

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 (李登輝) term in 1997, and also served as a finance minister and as KMT vice chairman.

Siew was former party chairman Lien Chan's (連戰) vice presidential candidate in 2000, and returned to economics after the defeat, serving in a private group of economic advisers to President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).

"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 (顧忠華), a political analyst and sociology professor at National Chengchi University, said the lack of budding KMT talent was a crisis the party must deal with. Ku was also skeptical about Siew's ability to carry out Ma's plan to revive the economy.

"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 (王金平) as his running mate, and his final choice of Siew, reveal the fact that Ma does not put much emphasis on his running mate, Ku said.

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 (吳伯雄) and turned down Ma's offer on May 31.

"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 (謝長廷) said the Ma-Siew ticket did not pressure him, adding that environmental protection, social justice and mutual trust were as important as economic development.

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