President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday said that using public opinion polls for the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) presidential primary would damage party unity, adding that the party needs to be united to defend Taiwan’s democracy.
Tsai, who is seeking re-election, is facing a major challenge from former premier William Lai (賴清德) in the party primary.
The DPP Central Executive Committee on Friday last week postponed the presidential primary, which was originally scheduled on Wednesday, to May 22 in hopes of resolving the differences between Tsai and Lai through mediation.
Photo: Chang Yi-chen, Taipei Times
Some political watchers have said that the delay would stack the deck in Tsai’s favor.
“The DPP has only one option, which is unity; one plus one is absolutely greater than two,” Tsai said after visiting temples in Yilan County’s Nanfangao Township (南方澳).
“Many people have said that public opinion polls would be a more democratic mechanism,” Tsai said, adding that she was confident about winning in polls.
However, “if we continue polling, divisions will split the party, because competition brings attacks, which are harmful to unity,” she said.
The nation should not envy Hong Kong for its economy, as many Hong Kongers have fled to Taiwan because democracy is deteriorating in the territory, Tsai said.
“Certain people” are promoting a slanted focus on the economy at the expense of democracy, she added.
“Without sovereignty, there would be no freedom … and Taiwan cannot be defended without unified support for the DPP,” Tsai said. “Unity is the only chance [for the DPP] to win the election, without which there would be no democratic Taiwan.”
“There are many procedures in a primary and I hope the one that maximizes unity would be the one chosen,” she added.
Asked for comments about Tsai’s remarks, Lai told reporters that any potential DPP nominee owes it to the public to explain their policies and platform.
“My candidacy is not about negating the past; instead, it is about fighting for an opportunity to take the torch to be responsible for Taiwan,” he said. “I very much hope that the nation would support my candidacy to represent the DPP in a presidential election that we will win.”
Lai added that the DPP primary is an institution that the party is rightfully proud of and it has many imitators.
“We should cherish the democratic institution and have faith that when conducted in a sporting manner, a primary will help unify the party,” he said.
In related news, Tsai said in an interview yesterday with GreenPeace Broadcasting station that, without democracy, the nation would slide backward.
She was responding to questions about Hon Hai Precision Industry Co chairman Terry Gou’s (郭台銘) comments on prioritizing the economy over democracy.
Gou on Wednesday announced his intention to compete in the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential primary.
Tsai said that the nation’s leader should be a person who has the diplomatic skills to garner international support in the face of intensifying pressure from China, as she has done.
Next year’s presidential election would be a watershed moment when Taiwanese decide whether they want to maintain the status of an independent and sovereign country or embark on the road to unification with China, she said.
Aside from securing international support, such as security assistance, Taiwan’s leader must continue to strengthen national defense., as China will only deal with the cross-strait situation in a peaceful manner if Taiwan has the capacity to defend itself.
Only a strong defense capacity can guarantee peace, Tsai said.
Additional reporting by CNA
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