Presidential campaigns draw to a close

By Yuan-Ming Chiao ,The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taiwan’s three presidential candidates and their tens of thousands of supporters converged on the capital and New Taipei on the eve of national elections on Friday, officially closing an overall tepid campaign stretch and putting the country’s destiny in the hands of voters today.

On the Eve of Change: Tsai

Front-runner Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), whose final day of street-by-street campaigning took her from Taichung to a finale across the avenue facing the Presidential Office, reminded her enthusiastic supporters that they were within the reach of final victory. “I’m not standing for election here today to defeat somebody, but to defeat the difficulties that are facing our country,” Tsai told supporters at Ketagalan Boulevard, flanked by DPP local leaders, legislative candidates as well as members from the New Power Party.

“The R.O.C. will not cease to exist just because one person is elected over another. We believe that as long as there is democracy, this country will be stronger than it has ever been,” she added.

No More Missteps

for Taiwan: Chu The ruling Kuomintang (KMT) started its last night of rallies in Taichung, before bringing its campaigning to a close in New Taipei’s Banqiao District. In Taichung, KMT presidential candidate and party Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫) spoke amid heavy rain, calling on supporters not to waver in their support for the R.O.C.

“We are a political party that understands retrospection,” Chu insisted. “We lost our power to govern in the past, but the KMT is a party that takes the high road. We insist on the things that are right, but we will reflect on our mistakes.”

Urging citizens to come out to vote, he stated that divisions would bring defeat, urging unity within the pan-blue camp. “If we succeed, everybody succeeds. If we are defeated, what is the point in differentiating between the KMT and PFP?” he exhorted. Earlier in New Taipei, President Ma Ying-jeou bowed at a 90-degree angle for eight seconds, in a conciliatory move, urging voters to support Chu’s bid.

Ma said that he had already finished “painful retrospection” of the last eight years of his administration, saying that his accomplishments surpassed those of his predecessors Chen Shui-bian and Lee Teng-hui.

Island Should Act as ‘buffer’: Soong People First Party (PFP) presidential candidate James Soong (宋楚瑜) started the day in Changhua, spending four hours in the central Taiwanese city. Soong claimed that U.S. government officials would pay him a visit after the election. He said that the island should play the role of a “buffer” between the U.S. and China. The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) confirmed yesterday that former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns would visit the island following the election. Soong ended his campaign run in Taipei, his third presidential bid overall, not counting his bid as Lien Chan’s running mate in a combined KMT-PFP ticket in 2004.