2009 ELECTIONS: KMT incumbent wins by a whisker in Penghu

AS CLOSE AS HE GOT:Tsai Chien-hsing’s near victory came as a surprise because he had consistently polled far behind Commissioner Wang Chien-fa of the KMT

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Sun, Dec 06, 2009 - Page 4

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) came within a whisker of a shock victory in Penghu County yesterday, as its candidate Tsai Chien-hsing (蔡見興) narrowly lost out to incumbent Wang Chien-fa (王乾發) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), marking the second time the DPP has come this close to snatching victory in the island chain since 1993.

In the 2005 race, the DPP lost to Wang by just 2.53 percent, or 1,259 votes. This time around, the KMT won by only 595 votes.

Tsai yesterday garnered 22,069 votes, taking everyone by surprise, because he had consistently polled far behind Wang, who had enjoyed a lead of more than 40 percent throughout the campaign period.

Lin Huo-wang (林火旺), a political commentator and former national adviser to President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), said the result did not come as a shock because “Wang failed to paint a vision of Penghu’s future after residents rejected the government’s casino development plan in a referendum in September.”

Yen Chiang-lung (顏江龍), a resident actively organizing an anti-casino alliance, said that the casino referendum helped Tsai close the gap with Wang.

Yen said that Tsai, a five-term Kaohsiung City councilor and once the council’s speaker, initally came from nowhere as he was not familiar with local residents.

The casino issue continued to be a main factor in the election, with Tsai saying he would not hold another referendum for another three years during his term if elected, while Wang’s campaign director, Lin Pin-kuan (林炳坤), a lawmaker and vocal proponent of casinos, promised to put the issue to a referendum.

Considering the votes for the DPP in the 2005 election (23,964), Tsai did not perform especially well this time, Yen said, adding that it was the low turnout in the county that caused Wang to almost lose his seat.

Kinmen County and Lienchiang County, the administrative name for the Matsu archipelago, remained loyal to the KMT.

In Lienchiang County, the two candidates — Yang Sui-sheng (楊綏生) and Liu Cheng-ying (劉增應) — who were both allowed to represent the KMT, ran neck and neck.

Yang’s slim victory over Liu may be attributed to the latter’s late start in the campaign. The incumbent, Chen Hsueh-sheng (陳雪生), had called Liu and asked him to run after the sudden death of his planned successor, Lin Hui-kuan (林惠官), in late August.

Kinmen County, the most competitive district with a total of seven candidates — all affiliated with the KMT — was won by Li Wo-shi (李沃士).

Former DPP legislator Chen Zau-nan (陳昭南), who ran for county commissioner in 2001, said the government’s mobilization of administrative resources, including a pledge to build the Kinmen Bridge, helped Lee defeat his two main rivals — Chen Shui-tsai (陳水在) and Wu Cherng-dean (吳成典).