The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) picked an inappropriate and inexperienced presidential candidate, which could cost the party the Jan. 11 race, People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) said yesterday.
“[Kaohsiung Mayor] Han [Kuo-yu (韓國瑜)] has neither the qualities nor the administrative experience to win the election,” Soong told political commentator Lan Hsuan (蘭萱) on her morning radio talk show.
Selecting Han as the KMT’s candidate was like “asking someone who cannot drive to drive on the freeways” or “asking someone who has never flown an airplane to operate an aircraft,” said Soong, who is also running for president.
The public should not trust their lives or the nation’s future to Han, he said.
“They [the KMT] should focus on inviting ‘capable persons’ to return to the party. This would be the only opportunity it has to come back to life,” he said, adding that the party has to rethink its strategy.
“I have to ask my friends at the KMT why they have nominated such a person to be its presidential candidate in the first place, now that they have to defend and explain on a daily basis whatever Han says or does. Does the party not have a better candidate than Han?” Soong said, referring to the mayor’s falling approval ratings.
The latest poll conducted by the Chinese-language Apple Daily found Han’s approval rating has dropped to 19 percent, while President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) approval rating has risen to 51 percent and Soong’s rating was 6.6 percent.
The presidential election would have been a different race if Han had not become the KMT nominee, Soong said.
It took the KMT a long time to regain the mayorship of Kaohsiung, so Han should be focused on being a good mayor, but instead less than a year after becoming mayor, he was picked for the presidential race, the PFP founder said.
As for criticism that his entry into the race would split the pan-blue camp vote, thereby costing the KMT the election, Soong said such criticism was unfair.
“As you can see, Tsai’s approval rating has already exceeded 50 percent, so how has my campaign affected potential votes for Han? he said.
“The problem with the KMT is that it has picked the wrong candidate. Would I have run if more capable people, such as former Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海) chairman Terry Gou (郭台銘), former legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) or former New Taipei City mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) were its nominee?” Soong said.
Asked if he thought the KMT might replace Han, Soong told Lan that it was impossible.
However, there are capable people in other parties, he said.
Soong said that he is the only candidate that could bring stability to cross-strait relations.
He said Tsai, the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) candidate, has lost strategic focus.
“Does she really think that the US would send troops to Taiwan and fight for our independence from China? We should avoid having a war. We should not provoke a war, but we should not fear a war,” Soong said.
“The DPP should know that our economy would suffer a great deal if we have zero contacts with the world’s second-largest economy,” he added.
The DPP has become increasingly like the KMT by operating through factions, which has left it out of sync with public opinion, he said.
It lost the Kaohsiung mayoral election last year because its resources were controlled by people of a certain faction, and voters were disappointed by their performance, he added.
Asked about the PFP’s ability to reach the 5 percent party vote threshold needed to secure legislator-at-large seats, given the approval rating for its current lawmakers is about 2.3 percent, Soong said that the public would be the final judge.
The PFP would dutifully present its visions and policies and let the voters decide, he added.
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