Following a week-long guessing game, independent presidential candidate James Soong (
Speaking at a packed press conference, Soong highly commended Chang for his spirit of caring about Taiwanese society, as well as his medical expertise, outstanding management skills and a macroscopic perspective in scientific circles.
"The question of political party affiliation was the only question I have never asked Chang," Soong said, stressing the non-partisan consultation process for his choice.
PHOTO: CHEN CHENG-CHANG, TAIPEI TIMES
Soong admitted he had already begun to search for an appropriate running-mate sometime between May and June.
"A suitable candidate must match expectations of my political ideas respecting team-work consciousness," Soong said.
Nevertheless, he said, his ideas have had to confront a backlash with reality, due to electoral considerations of winning the presidential race.
"I have had to take regional, party and ethnic background into account," Soong said.
Chang is a specialist in cardiac surgery, a native Kaohsiung City resident and a son-in law of former Tainan City Mayor Hsin Wen-ping (辛?戭? -- who was campaign manager for Lee Teng-hui (
When asked if he could draw on his surgical skills in politics, Chang replied: "I believe that under an environment of teamwork, I can come up to speed quickly. After the presidential voting next March 18, there should be no doubts anymore as to my ability."
Citing the words of Formosa Plastics Group chairman Wang Yung-ching (
Chang said he had personally delivered his decision to Wang Wednesday night. "Wang was apparently astonished by my move -- he kept silent for several moments, and then advised me to be prepared to make sacrifices for the island."
His comments, however, produced stern denials from officials at Formosa Plastics.
FPG general manager Wang Yung-tsai (?y揖牘b), -- Wang Yung-ching's brother -- said yesterday his brother "was very unhappy about Chang's announcement. Our company has never gotten involved in politics, and if Chang is determined to take part in the impending presidential campaign, he has no other alternative but to resign his post at Chang Gung immediately."
Meanwhile, Vice President Lien Chan(
"In democracies, it is normal for a presidential candidate to choose his running-mate -- it is not worth any particular attention," said Lien Chan's spokesman, Ting Yuan-chao (
Critics, meanwhile, said compared with the other two tickets -- the KMT's Lien-Siew pairing and DPP's pairing of Chen Shui-bian (
Julian Kuo (3?翰G), a political strategist from Soochow University, said Chang's academic background and the fact he is a native Taiwanese could offset Soong's weakness in being mainland-born.
"The Soong-Chang ticket has complementary aspects, such as a symbolic balancing between northern and southern Taiwan and more significantly, a middle ground between native Taiwanese and mainland-born Chinese," Kuo said.
"Such a veiled, unstated demonstration of approval by the Wang family over Chang's cooperation with Soong, means that the native Wang family -- who had earlier pledged to support Lien Chan -- has attempted to back both sides of the presidential race; perhaps other conglomerates may follow in Wang's path," Kuo said.
"If that happens, it would have great negative impact on Lien's campaign," said Kuo, referring to the solid conglomerate support Lien now enjoys.
Kuo said there is another trump card in Soong's hand to defend against a possible attack over his mainlander identity.
"If Soong can preserve his popularity at the number one spot in the presidential race sometime around next January, then Soong could possibly declare the current senior advisor to Presidential Office Wu Poh-hsiung (
"In this way, Soong could justifiably claim he has already made a government crossing both partisan and ethnic boundaries."
1942: Born in 1942, in Kaohsiung City
1967: Graduated from National Taiwan University
1971: Studied and practised advanced cardiac surgery in Houston, Texas
1976: Returned to Taiwan, taking up post as cardiological surgery department director at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, built by FPG chairman Wang Yung-ching.
1997: Became president of Chang Gung University, after being formally upgraded from a medical college.
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