A number of civic groups yesterday said that the first televised presidential debate was all hype and no substance.
An alliance formed by several civic groups held a press conference at the legislature in which they said the three presidential candidates — President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), Democratic Progressive Party Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) — dodged questions and failed to provide the public with information about their policies during Saturday’s debate.
Chien Hsi-chieh (簡錫堦), convener of the Anti-Poverty Alliance of Taiwan, said the debate failed to touch on the nation’s core issues and problems.
For example, when discussing agricultural issues, the candidates continued their squabbling about fruit prices and failed to touch on real issues such as the food self-sufficiency rate or government policies aimed at helping farmers grow high-demand fruit, Chien said.
He suggested that future debates should be held on a single subject, thus having separate events on topics such as cross-strait policies, education and judicial reform. Chien said this would let the public better understand the candidates’ proposed policies.
Wu Tsung-sheng (吳宗昇), an assistant professor of sociology at Fu Jen Catholic University, said the debate was nothing more than a fireworks show gone bad. None of the candidates truly answered any questions, he said.
Lin Tzu-hui (林子暉), a representative of the Taiwan Public Association, said the country’s young people are not interested in knowing which candidate would give the elderly higher subsidies or which party should apologize for certain issues.
The public is interested in knowing about the government’s long-term agricultural policies, he said.
“How will the government help farmers avoid risks? How will it solve the aging population problem in farming villages? How will the government tax the rich on their capital gains? These are the questions the public were interested in hearing answered in the debate. None of those issues were raised,” Lin said.
Yang Cheng-yu (楊政諭), a commissioner of Youthhoya, said young people are interested in knowing how the government plans to help solve the problem of low-wage, short-term contract work that many young people are forced to accept.
None of the candidates mentioned anything about this issue during the debate, Yang said.
On the issue of the wealth gap, Ma overlooked the fact that the burden of today’s debt will fall on the next generation, while Tsai did not even dare to say whether the country needs a tax policy overhaul, Yang said.