President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday visited former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taichung County chapter director Sheng Kuo-jung (沈國榮) in Greater Taichung while campaigning for Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislative candidates.
Sheng, who runs a car parts factory in Greater Taichung, is Ma’s former high-school classmate from Taipei Jiangkuo High School. His meeting with Ma was seen as a successful move by the Ma campaign to seek support in the pan-green camp.
KMT Culture and Communications Committee director Chuang Po-chun (莊伯仲) said the meeting, which is part of the so-called “pile pull-out” (拔樁) strategy, election slang for the practice of appealing to members of opposing parties or local political heavyweights for support, was particularly -significant in Greater Taichung, which is a key electoral area in the presidential and legislative elections, with the DPP enjoying growing support in the region.
Taiwan Hosiery Manufacturers’ Association chairman Wei Ping-chi (魏平祺), a Ma supporter who showed up at a campaign rally for DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) during her visit to Changhua County earlier this month, yesterday also attended a campaign activity organized by industrial and business groups to refute speculation that he had shifted support to Tsai following their meeting.
“Taichung is a key area in this election. We are sparing no effort to expand our support base by adopting the ‘pile pull-out’ strategy and taking measures to prevent ‘pile pull-out’ moves by the DPP,” Chuang said.
Greater Taichung is a key city in the elections because the DPP nearly took the municipality from the KMT in last year’s special municipality elections.
Spearheading campaign efforts for KMT legislative candidates in Greater Taichung during a KMT Central Standing Committee meeting, Ma yesterday stressed the city’s crucial role in the upcoming elections, calling for full campaign efforts with the elections less than 30 days away.
“We must win both the presidential election and the legislative election, so that we can use our majority in the legislature to pass major bills to help implement the government’s policies,” he said.
Ma defended the KMT legislative caucus’ efforts in passing major bills to facilitate government policies on land, real-estate justice and second-generation healthcare insurance, and vowed to continue reforms if re-elected.
“Voters today do not tend to side with political parties. They care about policy platforms, and so we must attract their support with our performance,” he said.
Speaking to a roomful of supporters and party members, Ma accused the DPP of engaging in a smear campaign against him when it accused Ma of taking a political donation from Fubon Bank before selling Taipei Bank to Fubon in 2003 during his term as Taipei mayor, reiterating his innocence.
“The merger of the two banks helped Taipei City increase its revenue by NT$10 billion. Many people said it was a model merger case. The DPP appears desperate if it is using a successful merger as a tool in its smear campaign,” he said.
Instead of attacking him and the KMT via the Fubon case, Ma urged Tsai to explain her alleged involvement in the Yu Chang Biologics Co case.
“Chairperson Tsai owes a clear explanation to the public, as we should all avoid conflict of interests and face up to challenges,” he said.