Former national policy adviser Ellen Huang (黃越綏) launched her presidential campaign as an independent yesterday, calling her entry into the now three-way race a “historic moment” that would help usher in a new Taiwan.
Huang told supporters that while she was mainly in the race to “disseminate ideas about Taiwanese independence,” she would also seek to be included on next year’s ballot despite the hefty administrative procedures and the absence of a party endorsement.
“No one dares comment [about independence] because they will offend China. This is why I must speak out,” Huang said. “We must show the world through a public referendum that we can decide the kind of country we want Taiwan to be. It’s a political movement and a social movement.”
Although there is little expectation that Huang will follow through with her campaign all the way to Jan. 14, she is seen as a force -seeking to -influence the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) agenda on Taiwanese independence and amending the Constitution.
Asked about her relationship with the party, the long-time confidante of former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said she believed DPP presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) was “talented” and that she would drop her bid if she trailed Tsai in polls.
“Tsai and I are like sisters. I will continue to look at the poll numbers,” she said.
Huang’s bid is mostly backed by pro-independence groups and individuals, with nearly a full roster turning out in force for her announcement. Several DPP councilors and a former DPP legislator also took part, with the party also sending a deputy secretary-general.
In a statement, DPP spokesperson Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said the party respected Huang, but also believed her supporters should “stay united” under a DPP umbrella.
The 64-year-old, who described herself as a single mother and “literate,” has been a major figure in pro-independence circles. Previously, she hosted a TV program and has also published books on marriage counseling.
Without a party endorsement, she will have to petition for at least 257,000 signatures and pay a NT$1 million (US$34,700) deposit to be included on the presidential ballot. She said she was optimistic in attaining the support, even without the backing of Chen, who she said advised her to drop the bid.
Among her policies released yesterday, Huang called on the judiciary to reopen the case into the jailed former president, saying he did not receive a “just trial.”
Her campaign platform, released to wide acclaim among the dozens of pro-independence supporters gathered, also included forming a “New Constitution Commission” to draw up a new Taiwanese constitution that would need to be approved through a public referendum.
“I propose a platform that will allow Taiwanese to decide, vote and build an independent nation,” she said.