Former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) is scheduled to officially launch her own foundation early next month to work on charity projects and public policy.
The foundation, provisionally called the “Hsiao-ying [Little Ing] Educational Foundation,” is considered by many to be the equivalent of a campaign headquarters if Tsai decides to seek the DPP nomination for the presidency in 2016.
The foundation’s executive director will be former finance minister Lin Chuan (林全) and its deputy executive director former DPP deputy secretary-general Hung Yao-fu (洪耀福). Several former DPP officials who worked under Tsai will also play an active role.
Key personnel and consultants will include former Mainland Affairs Council official Chan Chih-hung (詹志宏), economist Chen Po-chih (陳博志), economics professor Liu Chin-tien (劉錦添) and political analyst Yao Li-ming (姚立明).
One key aspect of the -foundation’s work will be the establishment of an online forum to promote dialogue and debate on national and social issues.
The forum, which has the working title “Thinking Taiwan Forum,” will encourage discussion in six broad categories, including democracy and law, China affairs, economic affairs and social and cultural issues, and will publish articles written by young professionals, academics, activists and prominent writers.
“The forum is intended to be an opinion leader among -intellectuals and to facilitate bipartisan discussion on various issues,” said a foundation staffer, who was not authorized to speak on the matter and wished to remain anonymous.
Tsai believes that it is essential for the nation to engage in a meaningful, pragmatic and rational discourse that transcends partisan politics and includes as many voices and opinions as possible, the staffer said.
While Tsai remains tight-lipped about whether she plans to run in the presidential election four years from now, several people have said the foundation resembles a campaign office, with departments focused on communications, -policy research, public relations and opinion polls.
The foundation also plans to work on the reorganization of the “Friends of Tsai Ing-wen,” a grassroots organization established during the presidential campaign, that has more than 10,000 members, to mobilize supporters.
Despite having fewer than 30 full-time employees, the foundation is also looking to make use of volunteers.
The foundation, which is funded from the NT$120 million (US$4 million) election subsidy Tsai received after the Jan. 14 presidential election, is still waiting for final approval from the Ministry of Education.