The three presidential candidates faced off yesterday evening in the final televised presentations hosted by the Central Election Commission. Both Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) said they would consider forming a coalition government if elected on Saturday next week.
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) started the presentation with his education policies, saying that if re-elected, he would not let children from poor families miss out on education or go without school lunches, and that he would ensure all Taiwanese children had a bright future.
Criticizing the DPP for talking about social justice, but failing to reduce the financial burden on disadvantaged students and poor parents in the eight years it was in power, Ma went said that if Taiwan wanted to become an advanced nation, then more attention must be paid to higher education.
Addressing the issue of parents’ doubts over a new education policy, Ma said after the winter vacation he would organize symposiums across the nation, adding that he would listen to all opinions and answer all questions.
“Taiwan’s students are not all as easily crushed as strawberries, but in the eight years in which the DPP was in power, it adopted a skewed international view,” Ma said.
Soong said that if he were elected president, he would work to help small and medium enterprises as well as focus on the issue of unpaid leave for workers and the inclusion of civil servants into the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法).
“I would not concern myself with political factions and would attend to the needs of the people,” Soong said.
Tsai, for her part, said that seeing how Chen Wan-shui (陳萬水) and Chow Mei-ching (周美青), the wives of Soong and Ma respectively, were much loved by the people, was proof that “women hold the power of stability.”
Pointing to the fact that a lot of corporate fat cats have supported Ma with a series of campaign ads, Tsai said: “The DPP doesn’t mind” because many of these corporations are under pressure from the government and from Beijing.” She added that some businesspeople had told her in private that they could not explain why they took out the ads.
The elections are about who can bring change and who can solve problems, Tsai said, adding that if a president who had done little or nothing over the past four years and whose political promises had all bounced checks could be re-elected, then the next four years would not be any better, and his political promises would remain unrealized.
“Taiwan needs change, and those who have not done well should leave their post and reflect on the issue so that those in power in the future can fully commit themselves,” she said.
Tsai added that the Ma administration has chosen to focus on the issue of stability, but over the past three years the KMT government had not bothered to allocate resources fairly, preferring instead to base allocation on personal gain and political calculations.
The KMT did not care fore equality and did not take care of the people, Tsai said, adding that this was the main source of disquiet and instability in the nation.
If Taiwan is forced to accept the “1992 consensus” for “one China” under the pressure of Beijing and the calls of big business, it would not only bring instability, but it would be the start of even wider social discord, she said.