Taiwan Presidential Hopeful Vows Nationalist Party Will Retake Power in 2016

taiwan-hung-hsiu-chi-press-conference-june10-2015.jpg Hung Shiu-chu, deputy speaker of Taiwan's parliament, speaks at a news conference in Tapei, June 10, 2015.

Taiwan presidential hopeful Hung Hsiu-chu threw down the gauntlet on behalf of the island's Kuomintang (KMT) nationalist party this week, hitting out at the "pan-green" camp and vowing to lead her party to victory in 2016.

Hung came forward amid a crashing silence from the KMT's political heavyweights, and is the first to throw her hat into the ring following the party's crushing defeat in last year's local government polls.

Currently deputy speaker of the democratic island's parliament, the Legislative Yuan, Hung is one of a number of passionate women to emerge onto Taiwan's political scene, as KMT president Ma Ying-jeou reaches the end of his term.

Like the female leaders of the newly founded Social Democratic Party, Hung has latched onto support and understanding for the less privileged in Taiwan society as a campaigning point, possibly in a bid to deflect focus from the thorny question of growing economic ties with Chinese mainland, which many fear will undermine Taiwan's de facto independence, and ultimately, its democracy.

"The people aren't the framework on which politicians hang their power; rather they are the entire foundation of that power," Hung told a news conference in Taipei.

"We will retake power in the 2015 [presidential] election. We won't allow populist politics to destroy us," Hung said.

Hung highlighted fears that Taiwan's democracy is now in danger of being manipulated by Beijing, a fear that sparked the occupation of the Legislative Yuan by thousands of student-led activists in the Sunflower movement of 2014 over a secretly negotiated trade deal they said would boost Beijing's influence in Taiwan's political life.

But she hit out at the pro-independence stance of the pan-green Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), saying the way forward was to maintain the status quo in relations across the Taiwan Strait.

"When the DPP pretends to favor maintaining the status quo and hides its pro-independence mentality, we will sign an agreement that will ensure long-term peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, as well as our own national stability, as well as expanding our role in international affairs," Hung said.

Walking tall

Taiwan has been governed separately from China since the KMT fled there in 1949 after losing a civil war to Mao Zedong's communists on the mainland.

But Beijing has refused to rule out the use of military force, should Taiwan ever seek formal independence as a sovereign nation.

"I want to the tell the people of Taiwan that I am poorer than any presidential candidate has ever been in our history, and I know what it's like not to get enough to eat," Hung said, adding that her mother was a menial laborer, while her father served a three-year jail term in the "white terror" before the Russian-trained authoritarian KMT set the island on the path to democracy.

"I know that when a country's economy starts to fail, that it's not just the hard-headed GDP figures that start to fall."

"It was my fate to be born into such a family, and it forced me to become hard-working, and taught me that I could never let myself down," she said.

"All along, I have continued to believe that the only way to get through life is by standing firm and working hard."

"I may be small in stature, but since I was a kid, I have walked tall," Hung said.

Reported by Hsia Hsiao-hwa for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.


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