Chen and Lien come out with all guns blazing

BLOW FOR BLOW: The president and his challenger found some time to lay out their ideas for the nation, but they found more time to attack each other's platforms

By Ko Shu-ling and Joy Su  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Sun, Mar 14, 2004 - Page 2

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and his election rival Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) yesterday spent more time attacking each other than presenting ideas for the country's future during the last televised presentation of the two candidates' policy platforms.

Chen outlined five goals that he wants to achieve, including wiping out "black-gold" politics.

Chen mocked the march held by the pan-blue camp yesterday. The march's theme was "oppose President Chen Shui-bian, salvage Taiwan."

The event was held at about the same time as the presentation of policy platforms.

Chen said that the pan-blue alliance changed the theme of the march from "anti-black gold" to "oppose President Chen Shui-bian" because it did not have the guts to stand up against "black gold."

"What the pan-blue camp has been doing over the past four years is to oppose and negate everything because they oppose and negate one particular person -- me," Chen said.

Calling yesterday's march "ridiculous," Chen said that the pan-blue alliance should not take advantage of the event to advocate conflict and hatred.

"It's ridiculous that the pan-blue camp initiated an event with the theme of `anti-black gold' because not only are they `black gold' themselves but they are also its manufacturer and follower," Chen said.

With the theme of the event changed, Chen said that he wondered why the pan-blue bloc did not decide to call for China to renounce using force against Taiwan. China has about 500 missiles targeted at Taiwan.

"I figure the pan-blue camp didn't have the guts to stand up to Beijing, either," Chen said.

Lien criticized the Democratic Progressive Party for what he called a lack of neutrality exhibited by members of the Executive Yuan. Lien discussed the Central Election Commission's rulings on voting procedures and said that police had been sent to Hualien for campaign purposes.

Lien also said that the DPP consistently pushed off its responsibilities -- the economy, social unrest and cross-strait issues -- on others.

He concluded his speech by pledging his allegiance to love, ethnic reconciliation, unity and determination in bringing about change.

Lien also presented his campaign platform and gave an overview of the policies that he planned to enact if elected.

"First, I will unify the strength of the opposition parties, especially that of the Chinese Nationalist Party and the People First Party. In the past few years, few have had a chance to execute policies because of the split in the pan-blue camp's strength. To combine the Chinese Nationalist Party and the People First Party's strength is the foundation for Taiwan's prosperity," Lien said.

Lien went on to say that his policies would always be undertaken in an effort to attain social justice. Lien vowed to contribute his personal salary as well as campaign subsidies to this cause.

In addition, Lien laid out plans to revitalize his party by bringing in young people. He said that he would not seek another term as party chairman and would hand over the chairmanship to a younger party member.

Regarding cross-strait issues, Lien called for the establishment of direct links and the signing of an agreement with China arrived at via peaceful negotiations across the strait.

"The Republic of China will not enter into any negotiations with China as long as a military threat exists. We request that China get rid of its missiles," Lien said.