Sun, Sep 24, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Speakers talk presidential elections

OPPOSING EFFECTS:China and the US both influence Taiwanese elections, but to opposite ends, a speaker said, citing the effects of Chinese criticism on the first election

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

Speakers yesterday reviewed the six direct presidential elections Taiwan has held, touching on a range of issues including the idiosyncrasies of Taiwanese elections and the negative effects of the prolonged waiting period before a presidential handover.

Taiwan-Japan Relations Association President Chiou I-jen (邱義仁), who was the campaign chief executive officer for former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), said that scandals have often changed the landscape of elections, citing the smear campaign the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) launched against then-independent candidate James Soong (宋楚瑜) surrounding securities he held that were issued by Chung Hsing Bills Finance Co.

The scandal took away the advantage that Soong, who had been leading in the polls by a wide margin, had over Chen and the KMT’s Lien Chan (連戰), and was a major factor behind Soong’s defeat, he said.

Another example regarded the embezzlement charges against Chen, which he said had negatively affected the campaigns of former premiers Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) and Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) in 2008, because even though the Chen family has claimed innocence to this day, the majority of Taiwanese believe he is guilty, he said.

China and the US also played significant roles in presidential elections to opposite effects, as China’s attempts at influencing elections were usually botched, while the US’ influence has been strongly felt, Chiu said.

The US National Security Agency during President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) first presidential campaign criticized Tsai, apparently because of its negative impression of Chen, as both he and Tsai are Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) members, Chiu said.

The US’ criticism of Tsai put considerable pressure on DPP members, he added.

In contrast, former Chinese premier Zhu Rongji’s (朱鎔基) move of criticizing efforts to hold the nation’s first presidential election during the Third Taiwan Strait Crisis in 1996, caused great antipathy among Taiwanese, which aided the election of former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), he said.

There is a “frenzy” whenever a general election comes around, which is evident in the considerably larger crowds at local campaign rallies compared with such rallies in the US, despite the difference between the two nations’ populations, he said.

That could indicate that Taiwanese society is “highly divided” in terms of political beliefs, he said.

Tseng Yung-chuan (曾永權), a former secretary-general of the Presidential Office, discussed the potential negative effects the four-month waiting period could have on governmental operations, such as resources being unavailable for presidential-elects to push their policies.

He called for legislation governing the presidential handover, which has languished at the legislature, to be completed by the end of next year.

Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation chairman You Ying-lung (游盈隆), citing surveys conducted by the foundation, said that the number of people who identify as Taiwanese instead of a “Chinese descendant” have soared since 1996.

Asked whether they considered “Chinese people’s suffering as their own,” 45.6 percent of respondents said they did in 1996, the survey showed.

However, when the same question was asked ahead of last year’s presidential election, 59.4 percent of respondents said they disagreed with the statement.

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