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06TAIPEI3792 2006-11-07 08:21:00 UNCLASSIFIED American Institute Taiwan, Taipei
Cable title:  

DPP Candidate Chen Chu Sits Out First Kaohsiung City

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1. (SBU) Summary. The TVBS TV Station hosted the first televised
Kaohsiung mayoral election debate on November 5. Although all three
major mayoral candidates were invited, only the Kuomintang (KMT)
candidate Huang Chun-ying and the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU)
candidate Lo Chih-ming attended, debating major issues such as
corruption, unemployment and the economy. The Democratic
Progressive Party (DPP) candidate Chen Chu declined to participate
because of lack of time to prepare and concerns about the pro-Blue
stance of TVBS. According to recent media polling, only Huang
Chun-ying and Chen Chu have realistic chances of winning the
December 9 election, with Lo Chih-ming polling at low single digits.
End summary.

2. (SBU) Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chen Chu's assistant
told AIT/K that Chen Chu did not have enough preparation time due to
the short notice given by TVBS and that she was also concerned about
the pro-blue stance of TVBS. Chen's assistant noted that KMT
candidate Huang Chun-ying had declined an invitation to a debate
from pro-green Formosa TV, causing that debate to be cancelled.
Kaohsiung's KMT Chairman Hsu Fu-ming had said in an earlier
conversation with AIT/K that previous interviews with Huang
Chun-ying had been edited for negative sound bytes by Formosa TV,
causing Huang to be especially wary of the debate proposed by that
television station.

Main Issues - Unemployment, Economy, cleanliness in politics and age



3. (U) During this debate, the KMT Candidate Huang Chun-ying and the
TSU candidate Lo Chih-ming both emphasized unemployment as a

critical issue in Kaohsiung and they concurred that boosting
Kaohsiung's economy was essential. Huang argued that "direct-links
with China" under conditions of national safety and sovereignty,
could positively boost the economy, while Lo advocated developing
hi-tech industries as the solution.

4. (U) Both candidates emphasized their own integrity and untainted
careers, and both said they were committed to continue the
investigation into the Kaohsiung Rapid Transit Corporation (KRTC)
scandal (reftel). Lo, however, reminded people of previous and
on-going corruption scandals involving both the KMT and the DPP. He
argued that a clean TSU candidate should be the best choice for
mayor in the upcoming election.

5. (U) Age was another issue in the debate as Huang is 65 and Lo is

49. Lo argued that his younger age would make him more energetic in
performing his duties, just like former U.S. President Clinton.
Huang stressed that he was still full of energy, and maintained that
being a mayor was like conducting an orchestra, putting the right
people in right place, at the right time.

Conclusion - Time for a change


6. (U) Both Huang and Lo emphasized that changing government
through the democratic process was legitimate and necessary. Huang
asserted that the DPP lacked administrative ability and that its
links to corruption in the KRTC scandal had hampered the city's
development. Lo, on the other hand, urged people to vote for him
to avoid a continuing power struggle between the Green and Blue
camps, and to reduce possible linkages between the outcome of this
mayoral election and the upcoming legislature and presidential



7. (SBU) Fearing a possible split in the Green camp, AIT/K contacts
have told post that TSU's Lo has been under heavy pressure by
pro-independence social groups, like the Southern Taiwan
Association, to withdraw from the race. However, Lo clearly stated
in this debate that he will not drop out from the race for any
reason. In this first televised debate, Lo impressed people with
his eloquence as well as with his tough and firm image. Although
the debate can hardly increase Lo's popularity enough to win him the
election, it could draw votes away from the DPP's Chen Chu. During
the debate, the KMT candidate, as usual, showed his gentle and mild
personality. KMT Kaohsiung City Chairman Hsu has told AIT/K that he
noticed the drawbacks of Huang's soft image in campaign events and

TAIPEI 00003792 002 OF 002

planned to hire a public relations consultant to improve his image
and enhance his campaign.

Note: Next Debate on November 19


8. (U) The three major candidates will meet in the next televised
debate scheduled for November 19, which will be sponsored jointly by
the Public Television Services and four print media (i.e. China
Times, United Daily News, Liberty Time and Apple Daily).