April 15, 2015 - The Democratic Progressive Party's Central Executive Committee today formally approved the nomination of DPP Chair Tsai Ing-wen to represent the party in the January 2016 presidential election. Dr. Tsai made the following remarks upon accepting the party's nomination:
Today is a very important day. I am extremely honored to accept the nomination of the Democratic Progressive Party, and to formally represent the DPP to stand for election to be the next President of the Republic of China.
This is a pivotal moment for our party. I want to especially thank the DPP city mayors and county magistrates, as well as the members of the Central Standing Committee and my predecessors in the party who are able to be here with me at this critical time.
We are here today to demonstrate that the DPP is a united party. More importantly, we have a common recognition that, when we walk of this door at the end of the press conference today, we will be carrying with us a new mission, of gathering all of our strength to change this country.
After experiencing the past few years, how would you describe this country? I believe that for most people, the answer is that the leadership in this country has become its biggest problem. When it comes to many policies that deeply impact people’s lives, the government has kept the public outside while making decisions by itself behind closed doors. But the painful consequences of the government’s erroneous policies are then directly borne by the people. Our economy lacks sufficient momentum for growth, and lackluster business prospects are causing anxiety, yet the government cannot put forth proactive measures.
Furthermore, we face a serious problem of the unequal distribution of wealth, causing many working families to struggle from day to day. Workers’ wages have regressed to the levels of 15 years ago while youth unemployment has reached 13%. The Taiwanese people have lost their self-confidence, and the youth have lost hope. In a national environment of weak growth and unequal distribution of wealth, the younger generation has lost its upward mobility. When young people cease to dream, it becomes a nightmare for the whole country.
What Taiwan needs in 2016 is not just another transfer of power between parties. The old model of governance from the previous era must also be changed.
The KMT government loves to embellish statistical data, and to trumpet unreachable slogans such as “633,” all the while forgetting that the people’s prosperity is the truest indicator for measuring the success of the government’s policies.
Our country must begin down a new path, one based on the establishment of a government that puts the people first, that holds the people’s needs and dignity as the starting point for determining the country’s policy direction. So when I say that the new model of economic development must have “innovation, employment, and distribution” as its core concept, what I am referring to is an economic vision that places the people first. Within this vision, innovation will be the driver of economic growth, with the creation of employment opportunities being the ultimate goal of economic development, while the fruits of economic success should be shared fairly among all citizens.
In my eyes, the people are not statistics.
We must also look at the structure of economic governance from a new perspective, and allow local governments to share in the task of stimulating industrial growth together with the central government, with the aim of achieving regionally balanced development. The central actors in this new model will not just be government and industry; the “third sector,” including NGOs and social enterprises—and with the job opportunities and services that they provide—will all play important roles. Going forward, the government’s policy planning will be combined with industry’s creativity and technological application as well as the social mutual assistance model of the third sector, to create a new, “triple-win” equilibrium that benefits society, industry, and the government.
But to me, economic development is merely the starting point, while the end goal is to ensure that every individual can reap the rewards of their hard work and enjoy a decent quality of life.
Workers are at the heart of the functioning of our economy. The country should make sure that the institutions providing medical, education, and retirement services to workers’ families receive stable support to maintain a basic level of dignity. When caring for elders has become serious strain on the average family, we must revisit the people’s basic needs to build a system for affordable and quality elder care. When wage earners are under so much financial pressure that they can barely catch their breath, we have to reevaluate the fairness of the tax structure and review the issue of a capital gains tax.
I have long believed that if the government is willing to engage in looking at the issues from the perspective of the people’s needs and reassess the outdated concepts of governance, the policy decisions by the government would be very different.
We would no longer point to the escalation of housing prices as a symbol of society’s prosperity. Instead, we would combine a more just tax structure with the provision of public housing to enable young people to live and work contently without carrying a heavy mortgage for the whole rest of their lives.
We would not permit food producers to continue to neglect, unchecked, the health of their consumers for the sake of profit, turning food safety into a national problem. We will monitor businesses and let public authorities serve as the guardians of public health. We also hope to turn higher food safety and quality standards into a source of growth and advancement for new agriculture and productive industries.
We would certainly not allow land conservation and agricultural development to be sacrificed. Through the aerial camera eye of the documentary “Beyond Beauty: Taiwan from Above,” we saw a national landscape marked by countless wounds. We will put forth advanced regulations and proactive measures to protect the land that our people rely on for survival.
We would also not let our citizens remain vulnerable to the high risk of nuclear disaster and extensive pollution. We will respond to the people’s desire for a high quality environment by expanding our conservation efforts and accelerating the development of green energy, which will at the same time create new possibilities for Taiwan’s industries.
It would take us a whole day to enumerate one by one all of the policy areas that require comprehensive reform. This includes the government’s out-of-control fiscal policy, the unequal pension scheme, the decoupling of the education system from society’s evolution, regionally unbalanced development, and bureaucratic inefficiency, etc.
This country has too many problems that have reached a level of severity that can only be reversed through decisive and resolute action. The first step to addressing these problems is to win the 2016 election and bring an end to the KMT administration, so that the government can return to the starting point of putting people first.
In the next few months, I will convey to the people our policy proposals for each one of these pressing challenges facing Taiwan. I will tell everyone what plans the DPP has formulated to address these issues, and how much time and resources our proposals require.
I want to tell everyone that to change this country, we must all share a common will. Then, out of many diverse opinions, decisions can be made through a democratic process so that everyone is united and walking forward together. What I am preparing to do is to unite this country, to forge the greatest possible strength for reform.
In the course of promoting thorough reform, we will need a peaceful and stable external environment. The management of cross-strait relations is the dimension of Taiwan’s external relations that undoubtedly receives the greatest amount of attention. I will emphasize again that cross-strait relations are not KMT-CCP relations, and will not become DPP-CCP relations in the future.
On the basis of this belief, the DPP will assume the responsibility of reform and resolve to promote the passage of the cross-strait negotiations oversight law, to establish a complete framework for the continuation of cross-strait negotiations. With regard to the cross-strait agreements that are currently under negotiation or review, when we return to government they will be monitored on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the oversight legislation as the negotiation proceeds. This will guide the cross-strait interactions toward a more sustainable, more democratic track based solidly upon the public will.
I must also reiterate here that the DPP’s basic principle for managing cross-strait relations is to “maintain the status quo.” When changes of government have become a normalized part of Taiwan’s democracy, cross-strait relations must always be in accordance with the public will no matter who governs in the future.
Therefore, the next president must take up the mission of normalizing cross-strait relations by taking them beyond the KMT-CCP framework. I ask the Taiwanese people to trust that I absolutely will not fail to live up to this mission.
Lastly, I want to thank all of the people that have accompanied me, supported me, and encouraged me over these last few years.
Before leaving home this morning, I thought back to the night of the 2012 election defeat. There were many young people there with tears streaming down their faces. Today I say to you all what I told myself this morning: I will do my utmost to turn those tears into smiles.
And now, I will once again welcome this challenge. The one who stands before you is still Tsai Ing-wen. Nevertheless, I intend to show everyone my diligent efforts over the past three years, the ways in which I have changed. I will become the leader that everyone expects in their hearts and lead this country toward change, to restore the people’s confidence and light up Taiwan.
Thank you very much.
(See also: Original text in Chinese.)