President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took their row over the Yu Chang biotechnology venture to their post-debate press conferences yesterday, with the former denying instructing any government agencies to pursue the case and the latter repeating her claim that the case has been a collective attempt at “character assassination.”
The entire Ma administration and KMT, including Ma’s running mate, Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), Council for Economic Planning and Development Minister Christina Liu (劉憶如) and the KMT caucus have waged a negative campaign, Tsai said.
“When you make public comments about whether [the case] was a plus or a minus for your presidential campaign, how can you say it was not a political maneuver before the election?” Tsai, who was suffering from the flu, said with a frail voice at a post--debate press conference.
“The smear campaign has been a minus for Taiwanese, society, Taiwan’s democracy and the development of its biotech industry,” she said.
Meanwhile, at Ma’s post-debate press conference, he said the case emerged after KMT legislators raised their concerns, rather than as a campaign strategy against Tsai.
“This case should be clarified with or without elections … Since Chairperson Tsai said she would accept public scrutiny as a presidential candidate, this gives her a chance to explain the matter and prove her integrity,” Ma said.
When asked whether Liu should step down for misrepresenting the dates on case-related documentation that she presented to the public earlier this week, Ma defended her by saying it was a careless mistake.
Liu had used the documents to implicate Tsai in connection with a government decision to invest in the biotech company TaiMed Group while Tsai was vice premier in 2007.
The documents that Liu showed to the media said Tsai was among the initiators of the TaiMed company when a meeting to raise capital was held on March 31, 2007. However, it was later proved that the meeting actually took place in August that year — three months after Tsai left office.
“The key point is whether Tsai failed to avoid a conflict of interest and whether she profited from the investment deal,” Ma said.
On issues he failed to answer during the debate, Ma promised to discuss the possibility of lowering the voting age from 20 to 18, as civil groups have suggested.
At Tsai’s post-debate press conference, Tsai, referring to the protest staged by Aboriginal activists outside the television station over not being given the chance to be present at the debates, said it was a pity that Aborigine representatives were not included in the debate, but reiterated her determination to implement Aborigine autonomy if she is elected.
“The implementation of Aboriginal autonomy has been the DPP’s long-standing position and that would not change,” she said, adding that it was important to ensure Aborigines have administrative and fiscal power.
Tsai also pledged to deal with the issues of nuclear waste and the formation of a truth and reconciliation commission, saying the establishment of a fact--finding commission would not be retaliation, but a step toward establishing historical facts and redeeming the good names of those who suffered.
Meanwhile, People First Party presidential candidate James Soong (宋楚瑜) at his post-debate press conference rebutted Ma’s comments in the debate that he would pursue unification.
“Both sides of the [Taiwan] Strait need to understand each other better so as to reduce unnecessary controversies and misunderstandings. Everyone supports the status quo,” Soong said.
When asked by the press why he said: “Here it comes again” when Ma and Tsai talked about the Yu Chang case at the debate, Soong said he was lamenting that the KMT and the DPP have been engaging in a war of words rather than proposing solutions to the problems facing the country.
Additional reporting by Shih Hsiu-chuan
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