Cablegate: Taipei Luminaries Attempt to Light Up Kaohsiung Mayoral
PP RUEHCN RUEHGH
DE RUEHIN #4047/01 3380939
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 040939Z DEC 06
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3335
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 6039
RUEHGH/AMCONSUL SHANGHAI 0602
RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU 1564
RUEHSH/AMCONSUL SHENYANG 5539
RUEHGZ/AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU 9785
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 7262
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TAIPEI 004047
DEPT FOR AIT/W, EAP/TC, INR/EAP
FROM AIT KAOHSIUNG BRANCH OFFICE
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL TW
SUBJECT: TAIPEI LUMINARIES ATTEMPT TO LIGHT UP KAOHSIUNG MAYORAL
REF: A) TAIPEI 4038 B) TAIPEI 3960
SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. PLEASE PROTECT ACCORDINGLY.
1. (SBU) Summary: All top DPP leaders, including a beleaguered
President Chen Shui-bian, attended the "Love Kaohsiung, Cherish
Taiwan" rally on December 3 (ref A), an indication of the importance
they attach to the tight Kaohsiung mayoral race. Also on December
3, the KMT held a 20,000-strong "Anti-Corruption, Taiwan First"
rally, which drew headliners KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou, Legislative
Yuan President Wang Jin-pyng, and Honorary KMT Chairman Lien Chan.
Both rallies relied on heavy mobilization, although the DPP had to
bus in people from farther afield to boost attendance to 30,000, far
short of the 100,000 claimed by organizers. End summary.
2. (SBU) In a display of support for mayoral candidate Chen Chu and
a show of party unity, President Chen Shui-bian, Vice-President
Annette Lu, Premier Su Tseng-chang, Democratic Progressive Party
(DPP) Chairman Yu Shyi-kun and Taipei Mayoral Candidate Frank Hsieh
all attended and spoke at a large rally at the Kaohsiung Love River
on December 3. The participation of all top DPP leaders at the
rally demonstrated the importance the party attaches to winning the
Kaohsiung mayoral race on December 9. Despite being tarnished by
corruption allegations, President Chen appeared, accompanied by his
son Chen Chih-chung. Chen Chih-chung had just brought his wife back
to Taiwan so that she could give birth in Taiwan, rather than the
U.S., to demonstrate the Chen family's "love" for Taiwan to Deep
Green supporters. In his speech, President Chen argued the
Kaohsiung election should not be viewed as a referendum on him or
Kuomintang (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou, but rather as a referendum
on former Kaohsiung Mayor Frank Hsieh, responsible for cleaning up
the Love River.
3. (SBU) Attendance at the DPP rally was less than predicted.
Police estimated to AIT/K that no more than 30,000 people attended
the event, far short of the 100,000 claimed by the DPP. At least
half of those in attendance, the police added, were not Kaohsiung
residents but bused in from surrounding counties. Police recorded
69 tourist buses from Chiayi and 47 from Tainan county, while
another contact reported 40 buses from Pingtung County. Crowds had
entirely dissipated by 6:30 PM, well before the scheduled closing at
7:00 PM, an indication that many participants were from distant
points needing to return home.
4. (SBU) The KMT held a counter-rally on the same day to boost
support for KMT Candidate Huang Chun-ying. KMT Chairman Ma
Ying-jeou, Honorary Chairman Lien Chan, and LY President Wang
Jin-pyng all attended, as did almost all KMT magistrates and mayors
from all over Taiwan. Rally speeches focused on the need to boost
Huang's prospects, with former Chairman Lien urging caution against
last minute DPP surprises and characterizing President Chen as a
corrupt and "fake" leader.
5. (SBU) According to police estimates, approximately 20,000 turned
out for the KMT rally, which also relied on strong party
mobilization to bring out participants. Local KMT contacts told
AIT/K that the KMT threatened all Kaohsiung City Council candidates
with a public reprimand by party central headquarters if they failed
to appear at the Sunday rally with their supporters. KMT City
Council candidates showed up with their own campaign flags flying in
full view. Police told AIT/K that some buses from Kaohsiung County
also brought outside supporters to the KMT rally.
Benefits of the Rallies
6. (SBU) One KMT official told AIT/K he did not think President
Chen's campaigning and the Love River rally would draw swing votes
to the DPP. An AIT/K TSU contact said "the rally attendees were
mostly non-voters who came from outside Kaohsiung, adding that this
show of support would not turn into votes in Kaohsiung for Chen Chu.
The TSU continues to be angry with the DPP and local
pro-independence groups for failing to invite TSU candidate Lo
Chih-ming to attend what was touted as a "non-partisan" rally.
7. (SBU) One KMT legislative assistant suggested the competing
rallies would not significantly affect voter turnout and preferences
on December 9. People have already made up their minds and rallies
and other campaign events primarily help candidates hold onto the
votes they already have. She added that the KMT was pleased with
President Chen's appearance, believing his presence was sure to spur
KMT supporters and swing voters to come out in force to vote.
TAIPEI 00004047 002 OF 002
President Chen no longer has the ability among non-fundamentalists
to draw any kind of a crowd, she observed. According to her reading
of the most recent polls, KMT candidate Huang Chun-ying will take
this election unless something "drastic" happens, a factor no one in
the KMT is ruling out.
8. (SBU) Kaohsiung DPP officials readily admitted to AIT/K that
they had mobilized great numbers from outside the city to attend the
Love River rally. Satisfied with the turnout, one DPP official said
the real success of the rally was a demonstration of DPP unity, a
matter of concern these past few weeks to many in the party (Ref B).
He argued that the rally would inspire swing voters to support Chen
Chu, but offered no evidence for his conclusion. The DPP believes,
he said, this rally helped to focus attention on the success of the
DPP government in Kaohsiung under Frank Hsieh, which would remind
voters of the importance of reelecting a DPP administration.
9. (SBU) The most recent polls, published over the weekend by the
pro-Blue China Times and United Daily News, show the KMT's Huang
with a 12-14 percent lead over Chen Chu, with 25-32 percent
undecided. In a Sunday evening China Broadcast News radio talk
show, a Taipei professor suggested that the appearance of all the
DPP's heavyweights in Kaohsiung indicated that the DPP is focusing
all of its efforts on the crucial Kaohsiung race, knowing that a
victory in Taipei is a long shot, but a victory in Kaohsiung is
still within reach.
10. (SBU) Although the Sunday rallies are unlikely to shift votes
from one camp to another, it remains to be seen how effective they
may have been in energizing the core supporters of the KMT and DPP
to turn out on election day. The extensive mobilization effort by
the DPP, which had to bus in many supporters from the surrounding
areas, suggests flagging enthusiasm for the party in Kaohsiung.
Despite the election being just days away and the apparent lead
enjoyed by the KMT in media polls, memories of the effectiveness of
last-minute DPP election tactics keeps all in Kaohsiung from being
willing yet to call the race for the KMT.