The televised presidential debate on Dec. 3 has sparked the national issue of the possibility of electing a female candidate to be Taiwan’s national leader.
This year is Taiwan’s presidential campaign year and it happens to be the 100th anniversary of the Republic of China (ROC). Looking back at history, there were 22 presidents or temporary leaders of the state before 1949 when the ROC was based in China.
Since the KMT government moved to Taiwan from China that year, the first president in Taiwan was Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石), a military leader. Chiang ruled Taiwan through the White Terror period and the Martial Law era.
One common feature of the ROC’s previous presidents is that they have all been male.
Going back to the presidential debate: “Is this the time to consider electing the first female president for Taiwan?”
According to recent surveys, the two main presidential candidates, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), are virtually tied in public opinion polling, including by the Apple Daily, the China Times, ERA News and so on. Generally speaking, female politicians tend to be detached from acts of embezzlement and ruling through terror because of their gentle feminine nature. Even though there have been a few female tyrants in history, those are exceptional cases.
Taiwan’s politics and economy are well known for “hard” power and this can be generalized through all the electronic hardware Taiwan manufactured during its heyday.
In recent years, Taiwan’s high-tech sectors have faced tremendous challenges from China because of its extremely low production costs. Manufacturing can no longer support Taiwan’s economy alone. Taiwan needs “soft” and innovative industries, including areas of culture, service, finance, software, etc. The most important infrastructure to move forward is our educational and cultural edges.
Education and cultural policies have been modified by the authorities after much public debate and they should be reviewed in the next presidential debate.
In traditional Chinese convention, the familial role of the female is to raise and educate children. This traditional aspect should be debated in the wake of our fragile education system today.
The whole world is facing an unprecedented economic downturn, as well as political and ethnic conflict that are causing widespread discontent and upheavals. The characteristics of a female leader would possibly be the cure for this rapidly changing era.