TAIWAN: 'Scum of the nation' report sparks Lu's ire

Associated Press report quickly changes harsh headline for story about Annette Lu's candidacy for president

Taipei Times
Wednesday, March 7, 2007

By Ko Shu-ling

The Presidential Office expressed concern yesterday over a story run by the Associated Press (AP) that described Vice President Annette Lu as "the scum of the nation."

With the headline "Taiwan's 'scum of the nation' runs for president," the story said Lu was an outspoken vice president that "China has called 'insane' and the 'scum of the nation.'"

The headline was later changed to a more moderate tone that read "Lu seeks to be first Taiwan woman president" after the Presidential Office expressed concern.

Lu said last night that she would send a letter of protest to CNN and demand an apology or an interview in order to safeguard the country's dignity.

Presidential Office spokesman David Lee  said the AP told him that CNN, which is an AP subscriber, had changed its original headline to make it sound more sensational.

Lee said the office would contact CNN to gain a clearer understanding of the situation.

Lu yesterday formally announced her bid for next year's presidential election, becoming the first Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate to officially register for the party's primary.

Three other DPP politicians have also announced their intentions to run in the primary are expected to register tomorrow: Premier Su Tseng-chang, DPP Chairman Yu Shyi-kun and former premier Frank Hsieh.

Lu made the announcement at the Grand Hotel, the Taipei landmark where the DPP was founded.

Saying she needed a "higher position to accomplish the historic mission left off by President Chen Shui-bian," Lu vowed to complete the normalization and globalization of the nation if elected.

Because of the nation's unique political situation, Lu said someone with a "correct sense of history" and a "complete sense of what is going on" was needed to lead the country.

Lu remained evasive, however, about whether she would continue Chen's "four noes and one without" pledge if elected.

On cross-strait relations, Lu said Taiwan and China had to end the resentment left by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and Chinese Communist Party.

"Taiwan and China are distant relatives and close neighbors. There should not be any hatred or war between the two countries," she said.

Lu proposed adopting a "three Cs" principle to develop "constructive engagement" with China. The "three Cs" refer to promoting coexistence, cooperation and mutual prosperity.

Commenting on the DPP's selection process, Lu said that polls were important, but what was more important was to select the candidate who could win the election.

After candidates publicly debated policy, Lu said she believed Chen would take into account opinion polls during the negotiation process between contenders.

If the negotiation failed to bear fruit, the primary would be held, she said.

Lu said she would not seek re-election as vice president and would drop out of the race if she did not place first in the primary.

DPP members will vote on presidential and legislative candidates on May 6. The party will then conduct public opinion polls. The party will announce its candidates for the two elections on May 30.

Lu said she would accept the results of the negotiations and "would feel OK" if she were told to withdraw from the race after the selection process.

Although she has not yet chosen a running mate, Lu said the person had to be a strength in the primary and the best possible assistant once elected.

Hsieh said yesterday he supported Lu's decision to run.

"The more people, the better. We can all improve through competition. But I cannot say I hope she will be elected because this is against my desires," he said.

Additional reporting by Flora Wang.