Fri, Jan 15, 2016 - Page 8 News List

[ LETTERS ]

Voters must turn out in force

As a person who admires Taiwan for its multi-party democratic system, I will be among those who will await both with anxiety and excitement the results of tomorrow’s presidential and legislative elections.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has topped the opinion polls, which means that she is very likely to succeed President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) on May 20.

This would seem to be the most likely scenario — considering Taiwanese frustration with the stagnant economy and the underperforming government led by Ma.

A new government, led by the sincere and intelligent Tsai, would give a new hope to Taiwanese, whose trust in Ma in 2008 and 2012 presidential elections does not seem to be reciprocated.

However, voters must turn out in full force tomorrow if they genuinely believe in change.

We cannot be content with opinion polls and surveys, and expect others to cast their votes for Tsai and the DPP’s legislative candidates.

Recent elections around the world have shown that surveys cannot be trusted.

Prior to the British parliamentary election in May last year, opinion polls showed that the Labour and the Conservative parties were neck and neck, and that a “hung parliament,” in which no party secures a majority, was the most likely outcome. Yet, the results gave the ruling Conservatives a strong mandate, with British Prime Minister David Cameron’s party winning more seats than when they were first voted into office in 2010.

In another instance, pundits had forecast that Singapore’s opposition parties would build on their strong performance from 2011’s general election and secure more parliamentary seats in the elections on Sept. 11 last year. However, the result was a 9.72 percent swing in votes toward the People’s Action Party led by Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (李顯龍). Among other key factors cited by observers in post-election analyses, it was said that Singaporeans’ unhappiness with the government in 2011 has subsided over the years thanks, in part, to the government’s actions in addressing key issues, such as housing and transportation.

I doubt even the most optimistic supporter of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) would dream of a scenario similar to Singapore’s — especially as Ma’s government has been ignoring the voices of the people for the past few years.

A strong mandate boosts the confidence of the president and their team. It would demonstrate to the international community the level of trust the public has in the new president and voice their disagreement with Ma’s policies and decisions.

Tsai’s capabilities and sincerity need no further elaboration. Unlike her KMT rival, who reneged on his promise not to run in the election, or Ma, who failed to honor his pledge not to meet with any Chinese officials during his term, Tsai is a leader who practices what she preaches.

A vote for Tsai is a vote not only for democracy; it is a vote for change and a vote for a better future.

While the KMT should be credited for increasing the number of nations and territories that grant Taiwanese visa-free entry or visas-on-arrival, I believe that ordinary Taiwanese are more concerned about their livelihood and their children’s education and future.

In this regard, the KMT failed to convince the public that the policies it has implemented in the past eight years have benefited ordinary Taiwanese. Neither has the KMT apologized for the missteps that, one can argue, led to the situation today.

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