The two presidential candidates named by the main parties, Chen's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the KMT, are respectively Frank Hsieh, a former mayor of second city Kaohsiung, and Ma Ying-jeou, until recently mayor of Taipei. Both are lawyers who studied together for their first degrees. Both are moderates, pointing to a period of less volatility and rowdiness in the recently bitter political rivalry. It looks like being a close contest, holding out the prospect of a fresh basis for talks with Beijing, whoever wins.
Ma, who has worked in New York and speaks fluent English, is a tall, well groomed, handsome 57-year-old whose earlier Kennedy-esque aura has diminished as the political encounters have become more bruising. He admits Taiwan's democracy looks "vibrant and energetic, though sometimes a little bit rowdy", with its frequent television shots of fisticuffs in parliament. But he says that assuredly "democracy is here to stay."
That annoying love affair correspondents have with Ma is alive and well here (Kennedy-esque? Hey, I knew Jack Kennedy, and Ma is no Jack Kennedy!), but note also that Ma is called a lawyer although he has never passed the bar or practiced law. Note too that both Ma and Hsieh are presented as moderates.....Callick lets both sides speak for themselves throughout the piece, instead of making Beijing-centric judgments, as Peter Ford at the CS Monitor did in his recent piece I blogged on earlier this week. It's long, detailed, and much better than stuff we've been seeing recently in the international media.
[Taiwan] [Democracy] [DPP] [KMT] [China] [Ma Ying-jeou] [Frank Hsieh]