Last week, Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) was declared the winner out of three contenders in the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) presidential primary poll. Soon after the result was announced, many friends received text messages from the office of the runner-up, former premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌). Su made it clear that he humbly accepted the result and congratulated Tsai on her success. He also called on everyone in the party to work hand in hand to win back Taiwan. I was deeply moved by Su’s message, and quickly got on the phone to officers of other civic groups to make arrangements for us to visit Su together.
If unity among Taiwanese can be turned into something more than just a slogan, it would be a mortal wound for the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). That is why, while campaigning for the DPP primaries was underway, politicians and media pundits belonging to the pro-KMT pan-blue camp didn’t miss any opportunity to exploit and play up any friction or conflict, real or imagined, among DPP supporters.
On Wednesday, Su held a press conference at which he acknowledged Tsai’s win and urged everyone to get together and support her campaign for the presidency. His brief announcement and call for unity has worried those pan-blue politicians and pundits and forced them to change tack somewhat. Now they are being forced to review the performance of President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration as they face up to the reality of a stronger DPP and start to prepare for next year’s legislative and presidential elections.
Opinion polls conducted by various media outlets following the DPP primary, including those that oppose independence for Taiwan, show that morale is running high in the pan-green camp, and that the party stands a very good chance of winning back control of the central government in next year’s elections.
The past three years under Ma’s KMT government have been hard for Taiwanese. Many people who are suffering from frustration and poverty must have found it hard to sleep at night as they worried about the future, but from now on, the one losing sleep is going to be the very person who has been responsible for our insomnia — Ma.
With his invaluable experience as a former premier and in other party and government posts and his political achievements, courage, resolve and ability, there is boundless scope for Su to play a decisive role in winning back Taiwan for the Taiwanese. Once the DPP is back in government, those assets will be all the more important.
The truth of the matter is that in the months ahead, Su can reach voters that Tsai cannot and that his character and way with words can persuade people who remain unimpressed by Tsai.
For that reason, we need Su to be there playing his part in the campaign for next year’s elections, the first time that presidential and legislative votes have been held at the same time. That is the message that we Taiwanese sincerely wish to convey to Su.
Chen Gau-tzu is chair of the Northern Taiwan Society.
Translated by Julian Clegg