Attacks on former premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) yesterday over-shadowed the second debate for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairperson election, which was held in Greater Taichung.
In the second of three televised debates before the May 27 election, three academics posed questions to the five candidates in the question-and-answer session, which was supposed to focus on cross-strait issues and national security affairs.
However, candidates seemed to take criticism to heart after the first debate on April 30 was widely described as “lukewarm” and “dull.”
Former DPP chairperson Hsu Hsin-liang (許信良) said Su, who some analysts have tipped as the favorite to win the election, was not qualified to be the DPP’s leader because of his lack of vision.
The former premier never put any effort into cross-strait or international affairs, which was why he had never come up with any meaningful policies in these areas, Hsu said.
Former DPP legislator Chai Trong-rong (蔡同榮) accused Su of unilaterally deciding to run in the Taipei mayoral election in 2010, leaving former DPP chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) with no choice but to run in New Taipei City (新北市), where the DPP had planned to nominate Su.
Su and Tsai both lost the elections, which Chai blamed on Su, saying it was the result of his selfishness and lack of party loyalty.
Su ignored the attacks, choosing instead to focus on presenting his platform, saying Taiwan should look beyond 2030 and develop long-term national policies that address sustainability, an aging society and energy shortages.
Taiwan should also increase its international participation in the areas of anti-terrorism and anti--piracy, while consolidating an “alliance of values” with Japan and the US, Su said.
Meanwhile, Hsu described cross-strait relations as the “last mile” in the DPP’s campaign to return to power, but said that China policy would be “a big river for the DPP to cross,” adding that the party would not be able to achieve this goal without an appropriate vehicle.
“The so-called ‘1992 Consensus’ was the Chinese Nationalist Party’s vehicle to cross that river. The DPP needs to find its own,” he said.
Su reiterated his “Taiwan Consensus” initiative, which recognizes Taiwan as an independent, sovereign country and states that any change to the “status quo” would have to be decided upon by the public.
National security was another point of interest in the debate, with Chai proposing that Taiwan develop the capability to attack 12 major cities on China’s southeast coast to counter Beijing’s military threat.
Hsu appeared to oppose an increase in the national defense budget, saying the DPP should break its habit of “challenging the world political order, which recognizes ‘one China.’”
The military budget would be better spent on social welfare, Hsu said, adding that the South China Sea issue “should be a non-issue because it was so far from Taiwan.”
Former Tainan County commissioner Su Huan-chih (蘇煥智) said the DPP should re-establish itself as a center-left Leninist party, adding that he supported a collaboration between the military and local high-tech industry on military equipment.
Almost all the candidates agreed that the DPP should enhance its ability to monitor President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and his administration through its 40 legislative seats and stage mass protests to help people voice their opinions.
The last debate is scheduled to be held in Taipei on Saturday.