Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) accused Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) yesterday of overlooking the importance of the economy and failing to improve the situation as former premier.
"Hsieh cannot avoid the need to discuss economic problems. As a former premier, he can't deflect his responsibility for the lagging economy during the past seven years," Ma said during a visit to Taitung County.
Responding to Hsieh's remarks that Taiwanese are not "pigs or other animals who do not care about the next generation or winning the respect of others," Ma said the country and its people have no dignity without a strong economy.
"People are not pigs or other animals who only care about getting fed. But the question is: Has the hunger of Taiwanese been satisfied at all?" Ma said.
"Does Hsieh realize how the nation's competitiveness has dropped over the past seven years?" he said.
KMT spokesman Su Jun-pin (
Su said the party would distribute campaign material to more than 50,000 local branch leaders, who will solicit support for Ma and the party's candidates in the legislative election.
During a meeting with directors at the party's Tainan branch yesterday, KMT Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) said he expected the leaders to be Ma's representatives and to solicit support for Ma by making frequent visits and telephone calls to grassroots supporters.
Su said the leaders will also promote party policies and shed light on DPP "smear campaigns."
KMT caucus whip Kuo Su-chun (郭素春) also lashed out at Hsieh over his remarks, saying the DPP had failed to understand the people's basic needs, such as clothing, housing, transportation, education and leisure.
It is unlikely that the government's referendum bid on seeking UN membership alone will help Taiwanese meet these needs, she said when asked for comment.
Kuo said Hsieh did not dare accept Ma's invitation to debate their economic platforms because the debate would only show the "embarrassing achievements" of the DPP over the past seven years.
She said Hsieh's remark was just an attempt to shift public focus away from economic issues.
Asked for comments while in Kaohsiung, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (
In response to Ma's comments, Hsieh (
Hsieh said the issue of UN membership was important, as is safeguarding the nation's dignity. Ma should not underestimate their importance, he said.
Hsieh said he was also open to discussing the "cross-strait common market" proposed by Ma's running mate, Vincent Siew (蕭萬長).
"I will not avoid such issues, so I am asking Ma not to shun the debate on UN membership," he said.
Additional reporting by Flora Wang and Ko Shu-ling
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