Press Conference on 2012 DPP Campaign Themes hosted by Ms. Bi-khim Hsiao

The DPP held a press conference at the National Campaign Headquarters of DPP Presidential Candidate Tsai Ing-wen in Banciao, New Taipei City, to explain the DPP campaign strategy for the 2012 Elections. The press conference was hosted by Ms. Bi-khim Hsiao, who is a campaign spokesperson for Ms. Tsai Ing-wen.

She proceeded to discuss the current problems faced by Taiwanese society, which are related to socio-economic problems, such as the rise of real estate prices, the lack of adequate jobs, the growing wealth gap and issues related to energy dependency, among others. Ms. Hsiao described how these problems are currently predominant in Taiwanese society, and the DPP has responded with its main campaign theme, “Fairness and Justice”, in order to pursue fair economic opportunities and social justice for the Taiwanese people.

Ms. Hsiao emphasized that the DPP’s campaign has been mostly policy-oriented, and although there has been a negative smear campaign against Tsai Ing-wen, she stressed that the DPP will continue accentuating a positive campaign.

Although the cross strait issue is a significant policy matter for the Taiwanese public, Ms. Hsiao emphasized that cross strait relations represented only one factor in the upcoming Taiwan elections. However, she confirmed that China policy “continues to be a very important policy area [for the DPP]”.

She explained that the people in Taiwan are concerned about economic relations with China, and that they understood there are benefits as well as risks from engagement with China, but expect Taiwan leaders to manage the relationship with China well.

“For example, while we have experienced some GDP growth rate, however we believe the benefits are only concentrated on few business groups and the general population is not benefitting. We feel quite strongly that the risks have to be well managed,” Ms. Hsiao said.

For this reason, Ms. Hsiao noted that the DPP has chosen to focus its campaign strategy on promoting more “diversification of global interests” as opposed to President Ma putting all the eggs in one basket, she said.

Tsai’s Grand Coalition

Ms. Hsiao explained Tsai Ing-wen’s recent proposal of a “grand coalition government” when elected president. She described that this proposal for power-sharing, unprecedented in Taiwan’s young democracy, has emerged in response to deep political divisions in recent years.

Ms. Hsiao stated that Tsai’s grand coalition proposal is a means to overcome deep divisions and animosity that have intensified between political parties in the recent years.

Taiwan’s First Woman President and Three Little Pigs Movement

Ms. Hsiao said that another major campaign theme used in DPP rallies and related events has been the fact that Tsai Ing-wen is the first female presidential candidate in Taiwan, which shows a historical step for progress in our society.

Another unprecedented event has been the successful campaign of the Three Little Pigs, which Ms. Hsiao explained was the people’s backlash against heavy-handed government intervention in this campaign. The campaign turned into a large-mass movement of small sum donations.

Ms. Hsiao said that the DPP was able to collect a little over 200 million NTD (about 6.7 million USD) from a total of 143,000 small piggy bank donations.

Challenges to the DPP Campaign

Ms. Hsiao listed the major problems faced by the DPP in this campaign, particularly the lack of government neutrality. Ms. Hsiao said the DPP has found these problems to be very problematic in fear that it is a reversal to the practices common throughout the authoritarian period.

She cited the inappropriate use of government resources in the campaign, such as the story published by Next Magazine that uncovered the Ministry of Justice’s Investigation Bureau spying on the DPP presidential candidate.

Ms. Hsiao mentioned instances the demonstrated the lack of government neutrality, such as directing 28 government agents to gather information and spy on Ms. Tsai, as well as inappropriate mobilization of civil servants to attend campaign activities hosted by the KMT. She lastly cited the evidence of forged documents by Council of Economic Planning and Development to smear Ms. Tsai’s reputation.

Chinese Intervention

At the press conference, Ms. Hsiao also discussed with the press the issue of Chinese intervention into the campaign. She explained that since 1996, China has attempted to impact the outcome of Taiwan’s elections.

She said that even though China has not achieved its desired effects, they have continued to issue verbal threats and attempt to influence the election.

Ms. Hsiao cited that the charter flights and subsidized ticket prices were an indirect bribe or enticement meant to encourage Taiwanese businessmen to come back to Taiwan to vote. She also pointed out the fact that a number of Taiwanese businesses operating in China have been pressured to provide campaign donations to the KMT.