Greeted by both supporters and protesters as they arrived at the Central Election Commission (CEC), Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and her running mate, Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁), yesterday completed their official candidate registration, vowing to lead Taiwan to a better future.
“Tsai Ing-wen, dongsuan (凍蒜). Chen Chien-jen, dongsuan,” a group of enthusiastic supporters said as they waved Tsai’s campaign flags, using the Hoklo (commonly known as Taiwanese) phrase for “get elected” as the car carrying Tsai and Chen arrived outside the CEC building.
Escorted by police and national officials and candidates, the pair walked through the crowd into the building with smiles on their faces to make the official candidate registration.
However, only about 10m away, Tainan residents protested against an underground railroad project and other protesters demonstrated for labor rights.
“Stop ‘lighting up’ large corporations. Respond to workers’ demands,” some chanted, co-otping Tsai’s campaign slogan “light up Taiwan,” while others urged Tsai to promise to hold public hearings on the railroad project.
As Tsai and Chen appeared, the protesters tried to approach to deliver their petition, but were halted by the police, and the two sides briefly clashed.
The Tainan railroad project involves moving railroad tracks underground, which would require forced expropriation of a strip of land to locate temporary tracks while the construction is in progress, affecting more than 400 households.
However, instead of returning the land to the owners after the project is completed, the Tainan City Government, headed by DPP Tainan Mayor William Lai (賴清德), has decided to turn the land used for temporary tracks into a park, triggering protests from the landowners.
Following the candidate registration, Tsai and Chen left in a motorcade escorted by police cars and police motorcycles — a privilege enjoyed by presidential and vice-presidential candidates once they become official candidates following the registration.
Prior to the registration, Tsai vowed she would take Taiwan in a new direction.
“It does not take long to go from here to the CEC; it takes only about 10 minutes; it is simple to register as a candidate as well, but my team and I have been preparing for four years to write down ‘Tsai Ing-wen’ and ‘Chen Chien-jen’ on the form,” Tsai said.
Tsai said she and her team have been through the hardships with Taiwanese for the past four years, and have been to every corner of the nation to understand the needs of the public.
“We do not just propose policies, we hope to propose policies that can touch the hearts of the people,” Tsai said, adding that she hopes to make the democracy, diversity and creativity of Taiwan “the new Asian values.”
“More diverse, more democratic, more fair, more free, more prosperous and more united are the characters of an ideal nation in our mind,” Tsai said. “Toward such a nation, toward such ideals, we are departing now; we are departing to become masters of our hopes.”
Answering questions from the media about her decision to put her personal property into trust, Tsai said the move is to demonstrate her aspiration for clean politics, adding that, if elected, all the officials on her government team would do the same.
Asked about a Bloomberg report that the US is to announce new arms sales to Taiwan next month, Tsai said the US makes such decisions based on the Taiwan Relations Act to provide sufficient weapons for self-defense.