President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday touted her accomplishments in her first term in the first of three platform presentations for presidential candidates organized by the Central Election Commission.
Meanwhile, her opponents, Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜), the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) candidate, and People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) questioned her ability to lead the nation, accusing government officials of corruption and failing to execute policies.
Han, who won a draw to speak first, said that Tsai neither loves the Republic of China nor does she recognize the “1992 consensus.”
Photo courtesy of Chinese Television System
She also disappointed independence supporters who voted for her, Han said, adding that her administration is filled with corrupt government officials and it even shut down the Special Investigation Division.
Han said he would reinstate the division if elected.
“If elected, I would ask the division to investigate why the Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program cost NT$880 billion [US$29.1 billion], why Tsai’s government would spend NT$2 trillion on solar energy projects, and why the Kaohsiung City Government had accumulated debts of NT$330 billion when I took office. The division must get to the bottom of these things,” Han said.
Han also said that he welcomed the division to investigate him if he is found to be a corrupt president, adding that he would die in prison and would not ask for parole.
He also accused Tsai of using taxpayers’ money to raise “Internet trolls” to attack her political opponents, adding that her administration used exaggerated and false statistics to deceive voters.
“Tsai’s administration accused me of selling out Taiwan when I and a dozen of Kaohsiung City councilors went to meet Chinese officials in the Hong Kong Liaison Office. However, nobody questioned if President Tsai, former premier William Lai (賴清德), Presidential Office Secretary General Chen Chu (陳菊) and former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) love Taiwan, even though they have taken photographs, shaken hands and toasted with Chinese officials,” he said.
Tsai in turn accused Han of giving vague explanations about his acquisition of a luxury apartment.
Han also set a bad example of running for president after only being Kaohsiung mayor for three months, she said.
“Mayor Han’s campaign promises have entertainment value, but when asked how he is going to pay for them, he referred to a budget allocated to the Forward-Looking Infrastructure Development Program, which he disdained and the KMT boycotted,” Tsai said.
“If politicians betray the promises they have made to voters, make fanciful promises that they cannot deliver and have no ability to lead the nation, we should not vote for them,” she said.
Tsai said that she has withstood pressure when the government enacted pension reforms for civil servants.
The nation experienced reduced effects due to a trade dispute between China and the US, she said, adding that Taiwan has also performed extraordinarily in long-term care policy, budget deficit reduction and tourism under her leadership.
“It is China that changes the ‘status quo’ and uses the ‘1992 consensus’ to embezzle Taiwan. We cannot exchange sovereignty for short-term economic gains and allow China to infiltrate our society,” Tsai said.
Soong said that the nation faces many challenges, from climate change, an aging society, marginalization caused by the integration of regional economy to the advancement in digital technology and its effects on small and medium-sized enterprises.
“The pan-blue and pan-green camps do not want to face the reality. Each side only thinks about securing political gains so that it can win elections,” he said.
Soong questioned the feasibility of Tsai’s “Big Southern Project,” which seeks to upgrade facilities in southern Taiwan, as the government has yet to address the nation’s five shortages: water, electricity, land, workers and talent.
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