Fri, May 31, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Lai softens stance, vows to stay in race

FIGHTING ON:The former premier rebuffed suggestions of a joint ticket with Tsai Ing-wen, while calling on supporters to stop criticizing the party for the sake of unity

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Former premier William Lai speaks to reporters yesterday in Taipei.

Photo: Chang Chia-ming, Taipei Times

Former premier William Lai (賴清德) yesterday vowed to stay in the Democratic Progressive Party presidential primary, but said he was not considering a joint ticket with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文).

“I will not quit after encountering setbacks. Rather, it has strengthened my resolve and I will take up the responsibility with courage,” Lai said in an online television program.

Asked about his meeting on Tuesday with Tsai at a friend’s residence on Yangmingshan, Lai rejected reports that he was pressured to quit the primary and said they did not talk about a potential Tsai-Lai ticket.

Lai added that the DPP’s Central Executive Committee had to make a decision and if it had dragged on, it would damage the party and affect its chances in next year’s presidential and legislative elections.

“I was worried about what might happen, if the committee members had been forced to decide by vote, as DPP Chairman Cho Jung-tai (卓榮泰) had made it clear that he would not do so and if were forced to do so, he might resign as chairman,” Lai said.

“Now that the storm is over, my priority is to garner more support to win in the primary,” Lai said.

He also backed down from a threat to file a legal challenge.

“My intention is to unite the party, so it can win the presidential election. If we challenge [the committee’s decision] in court, it would harm the party,” he said.

“So we shall not appeal to the courts, but rather we shall appeal to the public, and I hope to have more people supporting me,” he said.

Tsai also expressed her support for the committee’s decision, saying that it “had agreed upon the rules for the primary process in accordance with the party’s charter. The committee’s decision came out of our party’s deliberations and it had followed the democratic mechanism.”

“Since the rules have been settled, then we should abide by the party’s decision,” Tsai told reporters while attending a conference in Taipei on assessing the government’s New Southbound Policy.

Pro-independence groups and Lai supporters on Wednesday said they could not accept the “unfair” manner in which the committee had forced its decision through and vowed that they would campaign to prevent several DPP legislators from being re-elected next year.

Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation chairman Michael You (游盈隆) told a group of protesters outside the DPP’s headquarters in Taipei that the committee must not use underhanded tactics to change the primary rules.

“The only way is a fair and democratic mechanism to determine the presidential candidate, then the party can stay united together to win next year’s election,” You said.

“We are gathered for a rally to restore the DPP’s soul and its democratic values. We are opposed to decisions that run counter to people’s wishes,” Taiwan Society chairman Chang Yeh-sen (張葉森) said.

More than 1,000 people joined the rally led by Formosa Alliance and the Chen Shui-bian Formosa Republic Association, with many coming from central and southern Taiwan by bus.

“President Tsai has lost a lot of support at the grassroots level, because many are disappointed at her performance, such as judicial reforms and other policy promises that she has not carried through,” former DPP legislator Chen Yung-hsing (陳永興) said.

“We believe Tsai cannot win in next year’s election, and Taiwan might end up with the Chinese Nationalist Party [KMT] as the ruling government again, which would sign a peace agreement with China” he said.

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