Soong an­nounces bid for pres­i­dency amid fanfare

Pro­poses coali­tion gov’t to end strife

The China Post - - LOCAL - BY YUAN-MING CHIAO

Peo­ple First Party (PFP) Chair­man James Soong ( ) an­nounced yesterday in front of hun­dreds of cheer­ing sup­port­ers that he is run­ning for pres­i­dent of the R.O.C. If elected, Soong, 73, promised to form a coali­tion gov­ern­ment and vowed to move Tai­wan away from the po­lit­i­cal in­fight­ing of its ma­jor par­ties, say­ing that the po­lit­i­cal field in 2016 should not be­long to one party alone lest it lead to cor­rup­tion.

Tack­les Cur­ricu­lum

De­bate First

In his speech en­ti­tled “Find­ing a way out for Tai­wan” which took nearly 40 min­utes to de­liver, Soong moved first to ad­dress the high school cur­ricu­lum protests, say­ing that ed­u­ca­tion should not be used “as a po­lit­i­cal tool for brain­wash­ing and clip­ping the wings of the young.” He pro­posed that the cur­rent guide­lines be set aside for the new pres­i­dent to deal with in an

open and trans­par­ent man­ner.

Transcending the Blue-Green

Di­vide

Soong di­rectly quoted his ri­vals in the race, Demo­cratic Pro­gres­sive Party (DPP) Chair­woman Tsai Ing-wen ( ) and Kuom­intang (KMT) can­di­date Hung Hsiu-chu ( ) to out­line how they per­ceived the chal­lenges fac­ing the coun­try. Soong said his vi­sion was “non-eth­nic, non-par­ti­san, non­gener­a­tional” and that “a di­vided Tai­wan could not com­pete on the world stage.”

His speech also touched on the “fram­ing of con­flict be­tween Blue and Green”, and he of­fered to bridge the gap with a “mid­dle way” and said that the coun­try did not need one party to rule ab­so­lutely, but a coali­tion gov­ern­ment that could lead ef­fec­tively. He of­fered six cam­paign prom­ises in­clud­ing ame­lio­rat­ing do­mes­tic po­lit­i­cal in­fight­ing, re­form­ing the con­sti­tu­tion, ad­dress­ing the leg­is­la­ture with a “State of the Union” ad­dress mod­eled af­ter the United States’, and build­ing a sus­tain­able peace with China.

His choice of words

also

re- flected an at­tempt to find a bal­ance to ex­ist­ing prob­lems. He said that while eco­nomic in­equal­ity had to be ad­dressed, it could not be ac­com­plished with an “an­tibusi­ness” stance. While crit­i­ciz­ing the cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion’s pol­icy to­ward sign­ing free trade agree­ments, Soong said the coun­try “lacked the strate­gies to pen­e­trate the mar­kets of other coun­tries.” He added that while en­vi­ron­men­tal con­scious­ness has taken hold, not enough was be­ing done to profit from the ef­fort.

Soong has pre­vi­ously run for the na­tion’s top of­fice in 2000 and 2012. He was also Lien Chan’s run­ning mate in a joint KMT-PFP ticket in 2004.

KMT, DPP Re­act

KMT nom­i­nee Hung at­tempted to down­play Soong’s an­nounce­ment, say­ing it had fallen within ex­pec­ta­tion. Em­pha­siz­ing her in­ten­tion to re­main com­mit­ted to the race, Hung said that “it is dif­fi­cult for me to re­spect (his de­ci­sion), but nor do I have to state my re­gret.” Party chair­man Eric Chu ( ) em­pha­sized the need for unity along the pan-Blue camp, stat­ing that splits within the con­stituency has al­ways led to de­feat.

Fis­sures within the KMT seemed ap­par­ent as one of its law­mak­ers, Lee Hung-chun ( ) an­nounced he would with­draw from the party and his leg­isla­tive seat in or­der to as­sist in Soong’s cam­paign. The KMT stated it re­spected Lee’s de­ci­sion.

DPP leader Tsai wished for Soong’s “good for­tune”, say­ing that her party would keep ap­prised of the cur­rent elec­toral sit­u­a­tion. An opin­ion poll con­ducted by Com­mon­wealth Mag­a­zine put Tsai ahead of Hung by a mar­gin of over 25 per­cent (41.9% to 16.7%). Soong’s en­try is ex­pected to siphon away un­de­cided vot­ers from both camps.

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