Tsai quits and tells faithful: I'm sorry

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 15 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 15 January, 2012, 12:00am


Opposition Democratic Progressive Party presidential candidate Dr Tsai Ing-wen apologised to her supporters last night and resigned her chairmanship of the party after failing to topple the Kuomintang's Ma Ying-jeou in the presidential election.

'I will resign the chairmanship of the DPP to take total responsibility for the election failure,' Tsai told a press conference, while still insisting that the island's cross-strait relations policy should be based on the 'Taiwanese consensus', which she again failed to define in detail.

Tsai urged Ma to keep his promises and enhance communication with other political parties to improve people's living standards.

'The DPP will not give up because Taiwan still needs opposition voices as well as opposition parties,' she told supporters.

Analysts and voters said the lack of clarity in her cross-strait relations policy was the key weakness that cost her the election.

'The endorsement of the so-called 1992 consensus by so many Taiwanese tycoons such as High Tech Computer Corporation chairwoman Cher Wang and Foxconn founder Terry Gou made many Taiwanese start to reconsider whether Tsai's election would harm Taiwan's economy,' said Wang Hsing-ching, a Taipei-based political commentator who writes under the name Nan Fang-shuo. He declared his support for Tsai a few days ahead of the vote.

The 1992 consensus is an agreement that was reached in Hong Kong between unofficial representatives of Beijing and Taipei that there is only 'one China', but that each side can have its own interpretation of what that means.

'I am so disappointed at such a bad poll result given the results in the five municipalities in 2010, when the DPP won by a landslide in southern Taiwan,' Nan said. Former Vice-President Annette Lu Hsiu-lien said Cher Wang's declaration of support for the 1992 consensus had influenced some swinging voters.

'Indeed, I believe that the tens of thousands of Taiwanese businessmen and their relatives who rushed from the mainland to Taiwan for voting also voted for Ma, which the DPP didn't count in our predications,' Lu told a forum on Formosa Television.

Wang Hsing-ching said the results also showed Tsai, a Hakka, had failed to win the support of Hakka voters in central and southern Taiwan.

Tsai is the first DPP leader who did not rise to prominence in the crucible of the 1979 Kaohsiung protests that sparked Taiwan's democracy movement. She is the most experienced DPP leader on cross-strait relations issues, but she is also famous for her stance against the 1992 consensus.

She was invited to serve as minister of the Mainland Affairs Council in 2000 when the DPP's Chen Shui-bian was elected as the island's president.

Just a month later, she rejected Chen's proposal that the 1992 consensus be recognised.

Chen wanted to accept it in a bid to reopen dialogue between Taipei and Beijing that had been frozen for eight years, but Tsai insisted that while such an arrangement may have been discussed, it had never been written down.

Lee Sheng-li, a cultural worker in Kaohsiung who organised a campaign to mobilise women in southern Taiwan to support Ma, said that another factor in Tsai's defeat was the popularity of the island's first lady, Chow Mei-ching.

'Our slogan is 'don't change our first lady', which moved a great number of traditional women in southern Taiwan when she made 90 degree bows through Ma's election campaign despite suffering a back injury,' Lee said.

Lee Siew-hong, a 50-year-old voter in Kaohsiung, said she didn't vote for Tsai because of her single status.

'I don't care about whether Tsai is a male or female, the problem is, as a 56-year-old lady, she still needs her mother to take care of her,' she said.

'As a single lady, she has never been a wife and a mother who needs to master a family, so how can she run a state?'

James Soong, who gained just 2.8 per cent of the vote, also admitted failure yesterday, while calling on his supporters to keep the peace to ensure stability in Taiwanese society.