Soong announces bid for presidency amid fanfare
Proposes coalition gov’t to end strife
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.
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
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
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.