Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜), the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) presidential candidate, yesterday tapped former premier Simon Chang (張善政) as his running mate in next year’s presidential election.
Han said that since his nomination in July to represent the party, Chang has always been at the top of his list for vice president.
“The choice was not simply based on whether he would help attract more votes, but how he could share the work of running the nation,” Han told a news conference in Kaohsiung.
Having worked as a premier under former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and head of Google’s Asia-Pacific hardware operations, and currently a professor emeritus at National Chiao Tung University, Chang has achieved great success in politics, the private sector and academia, Han said.
Chang holds a master’s degree in civil engineering from Stanford University and a doctoral degree in the same discipline from Cornell University, Han said.
To achieve the goal of “making Taiwan safe and its people rich,” Han said that as president, he would work on cross-strait relations, foreign affairs and national defense to ensure safety, while his premier and vice president would work collaboratively to focus on “making people rich.”
“My vice president would be very busy — definitely not a substitute who has no voice,” Han said.
Both he and Chang love the Republic of China deeply and are concerned about Taiwan’s future, he said, adding that they share a hope that the presidential election on Jan. 11 would be a fair and civil competition between candidates, despite the political environment.
Chang, who earlier this year announced a presidential bid before dropping the plan in August, said that joining Han’s policy advisory team has changed his mind about being vice president.
Although he had said he would not be anyone’s vice president, describing the role as a “mascot” and “ignored wife,” since becoming head of Han’s policy advisory team, he has become convinced that as Han’s vice president, he could contribute more by taking part in promoting policies he is helping to plan.
As an independent, he hopes to help build people’s confidence in Han, someone who “cares only about right and wrong, and never political parties,” Chang said.
He said that for the past three-and-a-half years, President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration has proven incompetent and authoritarian, and has squandered national resources.
“I believe we would do a much better job at running the nation,” he said.
Chang is to be formally nominated as the KMT’s vice presidential candidate once the party’s Central Standing Committee approves his nomination tomorrow.
Chang has a strong resume in academia, business and politics, the KMT said in a statement, adding that the two men complement each other well.
“Chang demonstrated his enthusiasm and love for Taiwan as premier,” the KMT said. “The Han-Chang ticket is expected to boost the KMT’s chances of winning the presidential election.”
KMT caucus whip William Tseng (曾銘宗) commended Han’s choice, describing Chang as a person of excellent character, with comprehensive academic, business and political experience.
KMT Legislator Apollo Chen (陳學聖) said he expects Chang to help Han garner more votes, describing the two as a “dream team.”
Tsai’s campaign office declined to comment on Han’s decision.
Democratic Progressive Party Kaohsiung City Councilor Lin Chih-hung (林智鴻) said that Han choosing Chang as his running mate “is like finding a political babysitter” for himself.
Additional reporting by CNA and Chen Wen-chan
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