Fri, Mar 07, 2008 - Page 3 News List

Presidential election 2008: 15 days to go: Ma camp accuses rival of smear campaign

By Mo Yan-chih and Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jou's (馬英九) campaign team yesterday said his rival, Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), was behind recent attacks against Ma and his family in a local publication -- an allegation the Hsieh camp denied.

A new Chinese-language newspaper, Taiwan Weekly, currently on a trial run, accused Ma's wife, Chow Mei-ching (周美青), of stealing newspapers from Harvard University's Harvard-Yenching Library when she was a student there and claimed it had evidence to back its claim.

"Hsieh's camp has been making false accusations since the campaign started, and it is using the publication to spread rumors," Ma spokesman Luo Chih-chiang (羅智強) told a press conference yesterday. "Hsieh's camp is a team that is good at faking things."

Tsai Shih-ping (蔡詩萍), another Ma spokesman, said that Taiwan Weekly would not be able to issue some 150,000 copies in color without financial backing and urged Hsieh to join them in condemning the publication's smear campaign if he had no connection to the paper.

The Ma campaign team's lawyer, Lai Su-ju (賴素如), also a KMT Taipei city councilor, lashed out at the publisher and spokesperson of the publication for dodging legal responsibility by using pseudonyms.

Lai said the Taipei City Police Department could not find the name of the publisher, listed as Tseng Tien-hsiang (岑天祥), and the spokesperson named Wang Mo-san (王默三), when the camp tried to file a lawsuit against the publication on Tuesday.

Wang held a press conference yesterday afternoon and rebutted KMT allegations that Hsieh's campaign team funded the publication.

She did not specify where funding for the newspaper came from.

Wang, a radio host, also denied she used a pseudonym to avoid legal responsibility, noting that she has been using the name for more than 10 years.

Hsieh's camp yesterday denied it had anything to do with the weekly newspaper and a DVD attacking Ma.

"We are not that stupid to do something like this, because it is bad for our campaign," DPP deputy secretary-general Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康) said.

A report in the Chinese-language Apple Daily yesterday, which said it had seen the DVD, said it showed four people who appeared in four different segments of the 41-minute feature.

One of them was a lawyer who criticized the KMT's suppression of the founding of the Taiwan Party.

Another was Taiwan Party Chairman Huang Shui-mu (黃水木), who claimed that former KMT chairman Lien Chan (連戰) had an extramarital affair and paid off the woman to cover up the scandal.

The third person was a former investigator at the Investigation Bureau, who claimed that the KMT used judges and prosecutors as informants.

The fourth man did not show his face, but wore a brown paper bag marked "Mr. X." He chastised KMT Legislator Chiu Yi (邱毅) and warned that Ma would sell out Taiwan if he was elected president.

Tuan said he did not know about the DVD until he read the newspaper yesterday morning, adding that he was curious to know whether the DVD was produced for a political purpose or for personal profit.

Tuan urged those who possess a copy of the DVD to refrain from watching and distributing it.

At a different setting in Taipei City, Hsieh said he was against such a "dirty trick."

Additional reporting by staff writer

Also see: EDITORIAL: Missed opportunities for Ma, voters

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