Sat, Jul 30, 2011 - Page 3 News List

INTERVIEW: Soong unclear on electoral role

In an interview with staff reporter Tzou Jiing-wen of the Chinese-language ‘Liberty Times’ (the sister newspaper of the ‘Taipei Times’) on Sunday, People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong clearly indicated he would take part in next year’s elections to help the party garner enough seats in the legislature for it to form a legislative caucus and play a key role in the future of Taiwanese politics

People First Party Chairman James Soong gestures in an interview with the Liberty Times on Sunday.

Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times

Liberty Times: In view of the approaching [combined presidential and legislative] elections, what are your views on the presidential candidates of the two major parties, Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)?

James Soong (宋楚瑜): I would like to make some suggestions to the two candidates. The first suggestion is that I hope they adjust the thought patterns of their election campaigns. The most important issue facing the nation now is how to get Taiwanese to feel their nation has dignity and whether our future is safe.

Although we hope for cross-strait peace and that Taiwan will not be a trouble-maker, the nation cannot abandon its dignity, Taiwan’s core values and its core interests must be safeguarded.

Taiwan faces many challenges, and I hope the two candidates can truly and deeply reflect on the nation’s current situation and the current crises we are facing. The global power dynamics have changed, it is no longer the adversarial standoff of the US-led pro-democracy West and the Soviet-led Eastern bloc. The other side of the Taiwan Strait has changed as well, not only is its economy taking off rapidly, there are also major changes taking place within the mainland domestically.

The population structure of Taiwan has also changed. Not only is it aging, it’s also faced with the issue of a low birth-rate and mothers of many newborn are immigrants.

In the face of these changes, can the methods of resource allocation used in the past, concentrating most resources in key points, still be used? With only 160,000 newborn babies per year and more than 100 vocational schools and colleges in the country, it means a child would have to attend two colleges just to keep them open. What are we to do about these problems? If 12 years of compulsory education is to be accomplished, where is the money to pay for it and what supplementary measures are there?

The finances of our government are the worst they have been in many years; the central government, as well as all levels of local governments, are in debt. The nation’s finances are truly in a dire state and yet when it comes to election season, everyone is making campaign pledges, spending money to get transient votes. That, in the long term, is detrimental to the good of Taiwan.

What is even worse is that people are becoming more and more worried about the functionality of the government.

Do all these issues not merit some serious thought?

In a nutshell, I want to remind the two presidential candidates that the public cares about these issues as they are very relevant to people.

Taiwan does not need a ruler, what Taiwan — a small country facing international competition and the rocket-like rise of China — needs is a staunch leader, and a strong and competent administration.

I would also like to remind the two presidential candidates not to be plagued with the poison of previous propaganda. For example, when I was running in the 2000 presidential election, the KMT said that Soong scatters money wherever he goes. They thought if they mimic Soong — wearing a baseball cap and a white jacket — they would get elected. It doesn’t work like that.

What we need [are people] that get things done, not [the people] who playact. Solving problems is getting things done, but sidestepping issues with a feint is staging a show.

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