The publicized diplomatic cables record Su's remarks on Tsai during his private meetings with the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) directors in 2008 and 2009.Pushed to confirm the cables, Su said yesterday that “very many people” had concerns about Tsai, but that “now (the concerns) are no longer an issue.”
Tsai responded to WikiLeaks documents after an international symposium, stating that Su's comments are to be construed in the context of their historical moment.
In another WikiLeaks document, former DPP Chairperson Frank Hsieh is quoted as saying Tsai's academic demeanor is a drawback in her efforts to mobilize the DPP coalition.
Anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks recently made available more than 250,000 unredacted state documents. The AIT has condemned the publication and declined to verify its contents.
'Not At All a Powerful Leader'
In a cable dated October 2008, Su told the AIT that the DPP was unable to rally strength and set definitive goals. Su had remarked that DPP Chairperson Tsai lacked political experience.
Su did not explicitly criticize Tsai further, but implied that he could provide superior party leadership, according to then-AIT Director Stephen Young.
In a 2009 cable, Su said to new AIT Director William Stanton that Tsai was “not at all a powerful leader” and did not have the ability to bring problems to swift resolution.
In addition, Su told Stanton it had been a mistake to hold off on the Chen Shui-bian corruption probe.
“No Longer an Issue”
Su was asked to confirm the remarks on Tsai's leadership yesterday, prior to a meeting in Nantou County for Tsai's presidential campaign.
“It's true that at the time very many people had worried, but now it's no longer an issue,” said Su.
Asked if DPP Secretary-General Su Jia-chyuan was likely to be tapped for the vice presidential nomination, Su was tight-lipped, saying only that it depended “on the candidate's electability — that's the key.”
When questioned on the likelihood of his own vice presidential bid, Su made no comment and left the venue.
In another WikiLeaks disclosure, Frank Hsieh expressed ambivalence about Tsai's “academic demeanor,” according to local media.
Hsieh said during a meeting with Stanton that Tsai's intellectual persona is too “heavy” and lacks a people's touch that might connect her to many in the DPP base.
Stanton expressed reservations on Tsai in the document.
The fact that neither Su nor Hsieh speak positively of Tsai's leadership may augur rough waters for the DPP, said Stanton.
Tsai attended a symposium yesterday on “Asia-Pacific Regional Security and Peace in the Taiwan Strait” after which she addressed the WikiLeaks accusations.
Tsai said that Su had spoken to the AIT during the early stage of her chairmanship, during a lull in morale for the DPP party. The party's internal situation was ruled by high anxiety, but since then, a revitalized DPP has succeeded in elections. That speaks to her ability to lead, she said.
Tsai also suggested the reports may be of dubious veracity. She disputed a WikiLeaks claim that she had denied Ma a meeting on cross-strait relations in 2008.
A February 2008 report claimed Tsai had consented to cross-strait policy talks with the United States while refusing the same with Ma. On the contrary, Ma had been invited to talks but had not attended, Tsai said.
During the symposium, Tsai criticized the Ma administration for failing to use its available political and economic platforms to further the tenets of democracy in mainland China.