President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who is seeking re-election, yesterday focused his campaign efforts in Greater Kaohsiung, visiting several local markets and tourist attractions in the traditional pan-green stronghold and seeking support in the area.
Former Kaohsiung county commissioner Yang Chiu-hsing (楊秋興), a former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) member who left the party last year and Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) accompanied Ma as he visited the old-street district of Cishan (旗山) in Greater Kaohsiung.
Amid cheers from supporters, Ma tasted traditional snacks while shaking hands with the crowd. Local vendors also presented him with garlic and a bundle of zongzi — bamboo leaf-wrapped rice dumplings tied together with string — as a blessing for his re-election bid.
Ma later attended a ceremony to launch his support group in Cishan, lauding Yang for his previous efforts in local development and reconstruction work after Typhoon Morakot caused serious damage in southern Taiwan in 2009.
He also took the occasion to defend the signing of the cross-strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) last year as a great measure to boost the sale of agricultural products and said locally grown bananas would be included in the tariff-reduction list of agricultural products next year, which is expected to boost sales of fruit.
“My administration has successfully helped move Taiwan forward from the closed-door policies of the former DPP government ...The government will open up more opportunities for Taiwan if I am re-elected,” he said.
Also on the last day of the year, Ma rushed to Greater Tainan to attend a New Year’s Eve party and attend a performance by a percussion troupe.
He later traveled to Greater Taichung to attend the New Year’s Eve countdown party there, but only stayed briefly as he traveled to Taoyuan and joined Taoyuan County Commissioner John Wu (吳志揚) to give his blessings to the crowd.
Ma saved the final countdown moment for Taipei City as he rushed back to the nation’s capital at about 11:30pm, joining first lady Chow Mei-ching (周美青) and Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) on stage at the city’s countdown party to usher in the New Year, while additionally consolidating his strong support base in Taipei.
The Taipei City Government brushed aside skepticism that Ma’s attendance at the countdown party was a campaign event for his re-election bid and said the president, who is a former Taipei mayor, also participated in the countdown party in 2009, and that he and Chow were invited to attend the countdown party to give his blessings to the public.