DPP presidential candidates set for TV debate

By Vincent Y. Chao  /  Staff Reporter

Sat, Apr 09, 2011 - Page 3

The three Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential hopefuls will meet today in their first platform presentation, which will be broadcast live on television.

The candidates are expected to cover topics ranging from their own experiences to social policies and cross-strait relations in the two-hour session, the first of four, which will be telecast by FTV News starting at 2pm.

In particular, Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) is expected to talk about her leadership of the party over the past three years and her major social policies, including proposals to bridge the income gap.

“During this first session, Tsai will share with viewers her report card on leading the DPP out of the depths and her past government experience,” said Hsu Chia-ching (徐佳青), Tsai’s campaign spokesperson.

Tsai will also talk about Taiwan’s current difficulties and how she plans to lead the country, including on issues such as energy policy, Hsu said. Tsai isn’t expected to include cross-strait policy in her prepared remarks.

Former premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), the other frontrunner, will tell viewers about how he plans to help Taiwan “regain its confidence and put smiles back on Taiwanese,” said Lee Hou-ching (李厚慶), a spokesperson for Su.

“Over the past few weeks, the former premier has asked for guidance from academics and the public. His remarks [today] will be a reflection and a result of this,” added Andrew Wang (王閔生), another spokesperson.

The focus of Su’s prepared remarks would center on how he plans to create a more “prosperous, equal and confident” country, Wang said, adding that “it would be a waste of time talking too much about other people.”

Former DPP chairman Hsu Hsin-liang (許信良), who was trailing Tsai and Su by a long margin in recent polls, on Thursday said he “guaranteed” the televised session would be “interesting and varied.”

Hsu’s office spokesperson said he would speak on social welfare policies and also keep a focus on cross-strait issues. Hsu has -advocated for the cross-strait “status quo,” which he said would better help Taiwan’s economy.

“I hope that my policies can impact a lot of people … including Tsai and Su,” Hsu said.

The remaining sessions will be held on Wednesday, April 16 and April 20, and will be broadcast on cable news stations ETTV, Era News and SET TV respectively.

According to DPP organizers, each of the candidates would be given 10 minutes for an opening and closing statement. In between the two statements, each candidate will answer three questions posed by academics.

The questions will be asked by former Mainland Affairs Council chairperson Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), Taiwan Thinktank chairman Chen Po-chih (陳博志) and Ku Chung-hwa (顧忠華), a sociology professor at National Chengchi University.

The three candidates would not be given the opportunity to ask questions during the televised session.

Tsai is expected to be accompanied today by members of pro-independence groups that showed up at her bid announcement last month, as well as former DPP officials from former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) administration.

According to Su’s campaign, the former premier has invited senior party elders, including Chiang Peng-chien (江鵬堅), the DPP’s founding chairperson, as well as campaign volunteers and supporters.

Hsu’s campaign is also understood to have invited both the -former director of Chen Shui-bian’s office, Chen Sung-shan (陳淞山) and organizers of the “red shirt” campaign against the former president.

Both Tsai and Su are eagerly seeking to use the televised session to break out of the neck-and-neck contest that has so far marked the DPP primary.

An Apple Daily poll released yesterday gives Tsai a slight lead over Su in the nominations, but the figures are still well within the margin of error.

If the elections were held now, Tsai would lose to President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), 41.63 percent to 43.13 percent. Su would lose 39.14 percent to Ma’s 44.02 percent.

The poll, which asked 1,004 voting age respondents, was conducted on Wednesday and Thursday.