Tsai still touting idea of coalition

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 January, 2012, 12:00am


Dr Tsai Ing-wen, presidential candidate of Taiwan's main opposition party, is wooing ethnic Hakka voters in her hometown and her party's power base in the south with the idea of forming a coalition government.

Despite opposition from both of her rivals - the incumbent Kuomintang candidate Ma Ying-jeou and the People First Party's James Soong Chu-yu - Tsai has continued to propose the coalition at rallies.

'We, the Democratic Progressive Pparty, started [Taiwan's] first party rotation in 2000 [when Chen Shui-Bian was elected president], but we failed to implement our idea of building a coalition government because Taiwan's resources were still controlled by the Kuomintang,' Tsai said last night at a rally in Kaohsiung attended by at least 100,000 people.

'Only when Taiwan's ... parties unify to create a truly peaceful and harmonious state can we attract more mainland tourists, as well as overseas investors.'

Ma openly rejected Tsai's coalition idea last week, and Soong yesterday also ruled out joining such a government.

'It is because we severely differ on so-called national-identity issues and also because she does not respect the constitution of the Republic of China,' Soong told a news conference in Taipei, referring to Taiwan's official name.

Ma said the coalition idea was an election gimmickm. But some voters in central and southern Taiwan said they like the idea.

'I think it is a great idea, because we are tired of political wrangling between the KMT and DPP,' said Chen Mei-yin, a 61-year-old fruit farmer in Taichung.

In southern Kaohsiung, the DPP's power base, many residents back the idea, calling it the best option for Taiwan's future .

'Tsai's coalition government will continue working after Ma and Soong step down from [the leadership of their parties],' said Alford Wu, a 45-year-old Taiwanese living in the US who has returned home to vote. He said the younger generation in both the KMT and the PFP would be 'willing to join Tsai's coalition if she is elected as our first female president'.

Fung Shih-fu, a 56-year-old vendor in Kaohsiung, said former president Lee Teng-hui's endorsement of Tsai had also boosted confidence in her.

However, Taipei-based political commentator Paul Lin said Lee's endorsement wouldn't be as influential as his endorsement of Ma in 1998, when his support helped the latter become mayor of Taipei.

Still, he said, 'The significance of Lee's [support of Tsai] has reassured Taiwanese people that if Tsai is elected as our president, the political future of Taiwan won't be so bad, due to his rich experience in dealing with the cross-strait crisis [in 1996]'.

Lee formally endorsed Tsai yesterday by putting an advertisement in newspapers saying she would maintain sovereignty for the long-term benefit of the island.