President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday stepped up his re--election campaign in Greater Taichung by opening two campaign headquarters in the area, and expressed his confidence in winning by a large margin in this pivotal battleground in the presidential election on Jan 14.
Opinion polls show the race with Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) is too close to call.
Greater Taichung, a special municipality established by the merger of Taichung City and Taichung County, is considered to be a crucial swing area in the January presidential and legislative elections.
Photo: Liao Yao-tung, Taipei Times
Despite being a traditional Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) stronghold, the party’s performance in the mayoral election last year sparked concern within the pan-blue camp as the DPP’s then-mayoral candidate, Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全), lost to Taichung Mayor Jason Hu (胡志強) by only a small margin.
Su is now running on the same ticket with Tsai.
The official establishment of Ma’s campaign headquarters in Fongyuan District (豐原) and downtown Taichung attracted thousands of supporters.
“We received over 500,000 votes in Taichung County in the 2008 presidential election, 150,000 votes more than the DPP, and I am certain that passion endures and will help me win this election,” Ma said to the crowd in Fongyuan.
KMT officials and local heavyweights from different factions attended the ceremonies. Former Taichung County commissioner Chen Keng-chin (陳庚金), former KMT legislator Chen Jie-ju (陳傑儒) and former Taichung County Council speaker Lin Min-lin (林敏霖) are all set to join the campaign team and stump for Ma.
The KMT is hoping to isolate People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong’s (宋楚瑜) supporters in the area by focusing on party unity. Soong confirmed his run for the presidency on Tuesday by sending more than 355,000 signatures on his presidential petition to the Central Election Commission.
Meanwhile, Ma launched his home-stay campaign strategy in Greater Taichung on Friday night when he stayed at the house of farmer Chiang Wen-sheng (江文盛). His first home stay attracted much media coverage because Chiang is the brother of former National Security Council deputy secretary--general Antonio Chiang (江春男) under the former DPP administration.
Yesterday morning, Ma had breakfast with Chiang Wen-sheng’s family and then visited the family’s orange farm.
When asked about his interaction with Ma, Antonio Chiang said he returned to Fongyuan on Friday night to meet with Ma as a courtesy, but the two did not discuss politics.
“My political views and opinions on current issues are public knowledge,” said Antonio Chiang, currently a political columnist for the Chinese-language Apple Daily.
Chiang Wen-sheng is also the uncle of former Government Information Office minister Johnny Chiang (江啟臣).
Johnny Chiang, who is a KMT legislative candidate in the area, presented Ma with a lucky charm, a gift he said was made by a group of grandmas who wished the president all the best in the election and trusted him to bring peace and prosperity to the nation.
Wearing the charm as he campaigned for party candidates throughout the day in Greater Taichung, Ma said such home stays helped him better understanding local issues, and he promised to promote the continued development of the municipality if re-elected.
“Living a safe and peaceful life is the basic wish of all Taiwanese, and I promise to take this good luck charm from local grandmas and dedicate myself to maintaining peace and prosperity throughout Taiwan,” he said.
GREATER NUMBER: The sorties might have been a response to the US and the EU expressing concern on Friday over China’s ‘provocations’ in the Taiwan Strait Twenty-five Chinese military aircraft and four naval ships were detected around Taiwan from 6am Saturday to 6am yesterday, including eight airplanes that had crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait and another two that entered Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ). The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) aircraft that entered Taiwan’s southwestern ADIZ were a Y-8 anti-submarine plane and a BZK-005 uncrewed aerial vehicle, the Ministry of National Defense said. The aircraft that flew across the median line include two Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jets, four J-16 multipurpose fighters and two J-10 jets, the ministry’s official Web site showed. Taiwan’s armed forces monitored the
Mask easing: Teachers are allowed to take their masks off while lecturing indoors, but students should keep theirs on, as COVID-19 measures ease this week The Ministry of Education (MOE) yesterday released new on-campus COVID-19 prevention guidelines, stating that masks can be taken off while exercising, singing, dancing, performing, taking photographs, dining, drinking, video and voice recording, hosting events, presenting speeches and lecturing outdoors. Large outdoor events organized by schools should comply with the mask regulations issued by the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), it added. The new guidelines came into effect yesterday, and people in Taiwan are no longer required to wear masks outdoors for the first time since May 19 last year. The CECC announced the easing of the mask mandate on Monday, adding that it
LUNAR NEW YEAR PEAK: Taiwanese who are in China should get vaccinated and consider returning early, as infection rates are expected to increase, the CECC said China faces five major problems once COVID-19 begins spreading there, with a peak in infections likely during the Lunar New Year holidays, Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare Victor Wang (王必勝), who heads the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), said yesterday. Wang wrote on Facebook that according to the center’s data, the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in China is worth noting, as the new Omicron subvariants BF.7 and BA.5.2 spreading in China are highly infectious and are more transmissible than the previously dominating Omicron subvariants. “The virus cannot be eliminated even under China’s strict control measures,” he wrote. “Its policy
‘SEXUAL ASSAULT’: Taipei prosecutors said that cooperation agreements between Taiwan and the Czech Republic grant Czech officials protection against prosecution The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office yesterday reaffirmed that it would not charge a Czech official with sexual assault because he is protected by diplomatic immunity. The office released a statement saying it has verified that the man works for the Czech Economic and Cultural Office Taipei’s foreign affairs corps and is thereby protected from criminal prosecution. A foreign graduate student in Taiwan had filed a complaint alleging that the section head of the Czech Economic and Trade Section had sexually assaulted her on April 21 last year. The woman said the Czech official had invited her to his home and then forced her