Inaugural speech of Chair Tsai Ing-wen as 15th DPP chair

On May 28th, the Democratic Progressive Party conducted its 15th Chair inauguration ceremony, in which Dr. Tsai Ing-wen was sworn in as the new party chair.  The following is a translation of her official marks:
Dear Chair Su, senior colleagues, and comrades,

We just concluded the handover ceremony and Chair Su has taken a load off his heavy duty. I must say, thank you for your hard work in the past two years, Chair Su.  It was especially true when our former Chair Lin Yi-hsiung announced his hunger strike to pursue the ideal of a nuclear-free homeland, Chair Su did everything possible in the hope of resolving the problem at stake.  Every party member, including myself, was touched seeing Chair Su wear his heart on the sleeve.  Thank you again, Chair Su, for your devotion.

Chair Su and I might have competed with each other in the past, but the degree of contention was sometimes exaggerated.  No matter how intense the competition, we have never questioned each other’s dedication to the party, upholding of Taiwanese values, or our respective commitment to deepening Taiwan’s democracy and progressive values.

Just like all members of the party, we not only compete under a democratic system, we also cooperate on the basis of our shared values and beliefs.  Competition and cooperation are the drivers for the party’s continued advancement.

Democracy and progress are in the name of our party, and they are also our most important values.  The founding comrades, some of whom are here with us today, risked their lives and imprisonment to fight for democracy against the dictators.  In the last twenty years of the 20th century, democracy has been the progressive value in the eyes of the society.

With the efforts of our many predecessors, we successfully moved Taiwan’s democratization forward and completed political transition.  We also experienced losing the right to govern when the pace of our pursuit of progressive values lagged behind social expectations.

Looking back on this history, we have learned the high price paid for freedom and democracy, and how dearly we must cherish these treasures.  During the political transition, we have learned to govern and govern responsibly, and we felt the full weight of the people’s aspirations for good governance.

Having grown together with Taiwan’s democracy has taught us that we should not only undertake an in-depth review of our executive experience, but also reflect upon just what the people expect from the DPP.  In the face of a new era, what are the progressive values with which society identifies?

The time to act is now.  I know that the country holds great expectations of us.  Our members also hope that the DPP will once again achieve success.  In light of this, I want to lay out for you now the three critical tasks that we have ahead of us.

First and foremost, the year-end seven-in-one elections will be an important test for us to bring the country out of the current quagmire.  We will establish a “2014 campaign strategy committee,” and will devote the resources of the entire party to a complete mobilization to win this election.  Additionally, the consolidation of our field organization structure will also be one of the critical responsibilities of this committee.

Electoral victory is not merely a question of counting seats and attaining a majority; rather, it’s about a comprehensive expansion of the party’s base of social support during the course of an election campaign, a process of mobilizing ever more supporters to participate in the reform and development of this party.

At the same time, we must develop the party’s field organization, to map out the personnel teams that will expand local management.  We will need to improve the field officers’ ability to audit votes and counteract vote buying, to make elections fairer and raise the quality of Taiwan’s grassroots democracy.

Second, the DPP’s future policies must more closely reflect public opinion, as well as correspond with the needs of Taiwan’s future development.

In order to advance the dialogue with society to new levels and forge a consensus for nationwide reform, we must transform the New Frontier Foundation think tank into a platform for dialogue between the party and the people.

We will increase cooperation with independent think tanks to strengthen our research efforts in various areas of public policy.

We will also initiate direct dialogues with all types of civil society organizations, to convert ideas for reform into effective public policies.

At the same time, this platform must also have active linkages to the private sector, and through these systematized interactions, increase our capacities in areas of policy related to finance and commerce.

In the realm of international and cross-strait affairs, the New Frontier Foundation is also about to take on greater communications responsibilities, to expand the policy capabilities with regard to these issues.

To prepare the DPP to be a governing party, an immense policy capability will be required.  This capability will mean not just elevating the professionalism of our policies, but even more so, completely revolutionizing the modes of civic participation in public life.  This is what will make the deepening of Taiwan’s democracy possible.

Our third mission is to cultivate human capital in preparation for governing.  Our task here is certainly not limited to the “rejuvenation” and “opening up” of the party staff management team.  Personnel decisions are only the first step; going forward, I will also be asking the younger generation within our ranks to assume even greater roles in decision making and administration, to prepare them for government positions in the future.

We will establish a strong team in the field and a professional staff; we will work diligently at the organizational level, and respond to society’s expectations on the issues.  The DPP’s generational transition begins now.  We believe this is the DPP that the people are expecting, to bring true change to Taiwan’s politics.

Over the past two years, I have traveled to many places around the country, and in this time I have met many friends who, even as they confront great hardships, remain hopeful and resolved to change Taiwan—the school principals finding work for kids’ parents in aboriginal tribes, volunteers building children’s “book houses” in remote villages—for the sake of upholding an ideal, because of their hope for the future, they complete their great works.  These friends remind us to safeguard our ideals and hold on to our hopes, going forward with all of our efforts, for success is accumulated bit by little bit.

Fellow comrades, Taiwan needs change, and changing Taiwan starts with changing the DPP. Today I invite everyone roll up our sleeves and pitch in together. Thank you.