President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday announced that she had picked former premier William Lai (賴清德) as her running mate “to form the strongest combination” for the Jan. 11 elections.
She made the announcement at the inauguration of her national campaign headquarters in Taipei, while thanking Vice President Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) for his service.
“I want to give this important job to Lai, as 2020 will be a crucial year for Taiwan. So I asked Lai to run on the ticket with me, and for him lead the campaigns for legislative seats, so the Democratic Progressive Party [DPP] can win a majority,” she said.
Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times
“This will pave the way for better governance and rally all the forces of reform to work together,” she added.
“Right at the beginning of the [re-election] campaign, my only conviction was to win the election to safeguard Taiwan, as is the president’s duty,” she said. “Competition within our party has made us stronger. Now we unite in partnership to forge the strongest combination.”
Lai has had an accomplished political career, and he has a strong belief in and commitment to the future of Taiwan, she added.
“The Chinese Nationalist Party’s [KMT] presidential candidate has used every opportunity to vilify us, using derogatory language to attack us,” Tsai said.
“I must say, the KMT has absolutely no understanding of democracy and its values, and what it means to come together in unity. Progress comes from competition. No matter how intense the competition, in the end our party can remain unified,” she said.
Thanking Chen, Tsai said that he has “served as my deputy with distinction. He is always filled with warmth and patience, and took on troublesome tasks to fix them so we could overcome many difficulties.”
In his speech, Lai said he had accepted Tsai’s offer because he feels she is sincere and the ticket would meet the public’s expectations.
“In this darkest hour, we are joining together to safeguard Taiwan, to maintain our beacon of democracy as a leading light for Hong Kong and to illuminate the world,” he said.
“In the face of a China, which is closing in at every stage and warning signs from Hong Kong, what can the Democratic Progressive Party in next year’s critical election battle give the people of Taiwan? Isn’t our most important mission to unite and defend Taiwan?” he said.
“As long as Taiwan wins, there will be no losers, but if Taiwan loses, then there will be no winners,” he added.
“My ideals and my values remain unchanged,” Lai said as he talked about challenging Tsai in the DPP primary.
“We are comrades within our party. Tsai is not my enemy and she is not my adversary. Together we have fought many battles and experienced hardships, and we will face many future challenges. However, now Taiwan needs us, and I will offer my heart and mind to fight this election,” he said.
The KMT said yesterday’s announcement was no surprise.
Lai has proclaimed himself a “pragmatic Taiwanese independence activist,” so Tsai’s decision to pick him suggests that “under Tsai’s ineffectual governance, she could only try to entice pro-Taiwan independence groups and seek support from the extremist edge of Taiwan’s political spectrum,” the party said in a statement.
Additional reporting by Lin Liang-sheng
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