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Tsai Ing-wen: Goals of better cross-strait relations, more youth in DPP
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-05-18 08:23 PM
The election for the chair of the DPP takes place May 25, and on Sunday the two candidates for the position took to the airwaves to lay out their positions and plans for the future of the party. The debate, introduced by current party chairman Su Tseng-chang, pitted former DPP chair Tsai Ing-wen against former Kaohsiung County Deputy Magistrate Lin Kuo-tai. The winner in the election will assume leadership of the party May 28.

Tsai Ing-wen started off by saying that Taiwan and China need to focus more on quality and less on quantity in pursuing closer relations. She added that Taiwan must see that all dealings with mainland China are done in an open and transparent way that will ensure the safety of Taiwan’s democracy.

Tsai also noted that negotiators must not seek to impose the will of one particular party in agreements between the two sides. The important thing, she emphasized, is for negotiators to remember that they represent all the people of Taiwan, not a single party or faction.

Born in 1959, Lin Kuo-tai holds a PhD in Environmental Health Sciences from UCLA. His main political views regarding the party and its future are that the DPP chair should not hold any other public positions, the party should create a deputy party chair to help oversee party matters, and the party should reinstate the practice of balloting to elect its officials.

Lin began his part of the debate Sunday by stating that while he is pleased that the DPP is opposed to having the nation’s president, Ma Ying-jeou, serve at the same time as the head of a political party, the DPP needs to examine its own priorities and see if it should impose the same rule on its own officials.

Tsai responded by noting that in the past, as party chair she “went East” and helped win an election for a Legislative Yuan seat from Hualien for Huang Hsin-chieh. She added that in 2010 she took part in the election campaign for mayor of New Taipei City, adding to the momentum of the overall campaign. She said this shows that the party chairman has had a wide range of responsibilities and roles to play in different stages of Taiwan’s political history.

Tsai went on to say that the DPP cannot hope to build its own future on the shortcomings and failings of those in power. If the party wants to change Taiwan's political future, she said, it must first examine its own make-up and make any needed changes.

Tsai charged that the DPP must find ways to allow the younger generation to participate in its decision-making processes. She said the party must open up its doors and admit a broader section of society into its ranks. At the same time, she said, the DPP must reach out to society and in particular to the grassroots of the community. This means engaging in dialogue with the people and going out and communicating with the community.

Tsai concluded by saying that Taiwan needs a strong opposition led by a strong chair to help lead it out of its economic and social doldrums. She added that if the DPP can do that, it will leave behind its status as an opposition party and take up the mantle of the ruling party.

Following the debate Tsai was asked about the new "Island Forward" organization announced a couple of days ago by 318 student leaders Lin Fei-fan and Chen Ting-wei. She noted that Taiwan has a healthy mixture of different political parties and social movements,

She emphasized that political parties and social movements are two entirely different animals, and they play various roles in representing different segments of society. She noted that the goals of each group are basically the same, and each faces challenges building up its strength in order to effect reforms in the social and political systems.

Born in 1956, Tsai Ing-wen holds a PhD from the London School of Economics. She has pinned her hopes for the party’s leadership mantle on a strategy titled "Rebuilding trust and regenerating Taiwan," described as the process of “rebuilding trust in the party and renewing its social contract with the people."

Tsai believes the DPP needs to establish a “new realm of think tanks" as a public affairs platform to set up and maintain dialogue between the party and the people. This also includes the development of a digital party headquarters and a Youth Parliament designed to cultivate a new generation for the DPP. These changes will help to effect a wholesale re-organization of the party and an infusion of new talent ready to address the future, she said – and they all can be accomplished within the term of the next party chair.

Tsai said the DPP works in partnership with society and groups within that society. In the past, she admitted, some may have been dissatisfied with the party, but she hopes that in the future the DPP will be able to communicate with members of the public to understand and deal with issues.

Tsai noted that recently DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang proposed the idea of constitutional reforms including an increase in the number of seats in the Legislative Yuan. She noted that Su’s suggestion sparked wide debate in society.

Tsai said that increasing the number of seats might be helpful, but cautioned that the idea of constitutional reform should be approached in a holistic way. Rather than just tinkering with a few numbers, she said, the party needs to consider basic problems that need to be addressed in order to ensure a better government in the future.

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