Hsieh explains absence on blog

`RECUPERATING': The DPP presidential candidate said in a video that he would make public appearances once the issue of party chairmanship has been settled

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Wed, Oct 10, 2007 - Page 3

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Frank Hsieh's (謝長廷) absence from campaign activities has mystified the ruling and opposition parties, despite his explanation in a video message posted on his Web log on Monday night.

Hsieh has canceled all campaign activities since Sept. 28 -- the 21st anniversary of the founding of the DPP. His campaign office has said he is sick and has a sprained ankle, adding that he had become ill in part because of the stress of seeking a compromise over the party's "normal country" resolution.

Former DPP chairman Yu Shyi-kun resigned over the controversy surrounding the resolution. Yu was in favor of a version incorporating stronger rhetoric on key issues that some party members, including Hsieh, worried could scare off centrist voters.

After an 11-day hiatus, Hsieh posted a recorded message on his blog on Monday night, saying he was at home "licking his wounds" and "recuperating."

Hsieh said he would make public appearances once the issue of the party's chairman has been settled.

While President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) is expected to announce a decision on whether he will accept the position of party chairman tomorrow, Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) yesterday said it was a matter that could wait until the Double Ten National Day celebrations are over, adding that she and the president were very busy receiving foreign dignitaries for the festivities.

When asked to comment on Hsieh's blog video, Lu said that she had not seen Hsieh for a while. Lu declined to speculate on whether Hsieh's disappearance was politically motivated.

Lu said she hoped Hsieh would get well soon, dismissing a report in yesterday's edition of the Chinese-language United Daily News that claimed a senior DPP member had compared Hsieh's decision to make a video appearance to the behavior of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Premier Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄) yesterday said that he had not visited Hsieh recently because he did not want to bother Hsieh. Chang said that he did not plan to visit Hsieh any time soon and did not know how Hsieh was feeling.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), meanwhile, criticized Hsieh's video appearance, calling on him to make clear whether he was running for president of the Republic of China (ROC) or of Taiwan.

"I've heard that some DPP members are saying Hsieh making an appearance via video tapes is like bin Laden. He's disappeared for 10 days. I wonder whether he's still running for president," Ma said yesterday during a visit to Taoyuan.

Additional reporting by Mo Yan chih