Fri, Feb 29, 2008 - Page 3 News List

Presidential debate to stick to existing format

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

The second presidential debate will stick to the format adopted in the 2004 presidential debates and give presidential candidates more time to elaborate on their platforms, organizers of the debate said yesterday.

Following the first televised presidential debate last Sunday, debate organizers, including the Central News Agency, the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times' sister newspaper), the China Times, the United Daily News, the Apple Daily, and the Public Television Service (PTS), met last night to review the first debate and agreed that presidential candidates would answer questions filed by managers from the five media outlets at the second debate, which will be held on Sunday.


According to Sylvia Feng (馮賢賢), general manager of PTS, media managers will put 10 questions to the two candidates, the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) Frank Hsieh (謝長廷). Ma and Hsieh will be given four minutes to give responses.

The question-and-answer segment will be followed by a 35-minute section in which Ma and Hsieh will be able to challenge each other.

The two candidates will be given six minutes each to conclude the debate, Feng said after attending the preparatory meeting held at the Grand Formosa Regent Hotel in Taipei.

Feng said the meeting focused on discussion of the format and questions that would be raised in the second debate, and did not address the format of the first debate.

The first debate invited members of the public to submit questions for the candidates by recording 30-second video clips.

The candidates responded to 20 videotaped questions selected by the organizers from among 456 questions contributed to a Web site specially set up for the general public for the debate.

The 20 people chosen were then given the opportunity to question both candidates directly.


Some political critics, however, complained about the unprecedented format of giving only one minute for the candidates to answer each question and challenged how those questions were selected.

Grace Tu (屠乃瑋), a senior producer at the PTS and a member of the debate preparatory committee, said the two camps negotiated and agreed upon the format and the questions from the public before the first debate.

"We wanted the debates to be innovative and we think the questioners performed very well at the first debate. They were well-prepared and appreciated the opportunity to put questions to the candidates," Tu told the Taipei Times.

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