Former Premier Lai determined to contest DPP primary

TAIPEI (CNA) – Former Premier Lai Ching-te (賴清德), who has registered to compete in the ruling Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) presidential primary, on Saturday reiterated that he fully intends to go through with the contest.

Lai reaffirmed in a Facebook Post his determination to see the process through to the end, while many of his friends have expressed concern over previously reported “changes” to the primary procedure.

Lai’s comment came after DPP Chairman Cho Jung-tai (卓榮泰) hinted in an interview earlier this week that some party members have mulled using the “emperor’s clause” in the Party Charter.

This allows the convening of a national party congress which has the authority to terminate Lai’s presidential candidacy – a move that would secure Tsai’s unchallenged nomination.

“[My decision to compete in the primary] is not for personal gain, but rather a response to anxious calls from DPP grassroots supporters. We cannot turn a blind eye when people show indifference toward the DPP,” Lai said.

“Only through a primary election will the DPP engage in reflection and offer explanations so that people know the party is still worth trusting, and has not walked away from the responsibility it has to Taiwan,” he added Along with having fair competition and debates, “presenting ourselves to the public as a unified party has always been the tradition of the DPP,” the doctor-turned-politician said.

“I have every confidence in my fellow party members and the primary mechanism,” he added, though party members do not vote directly for the party’s presidential candidate.

The DPP has already started its primary process with the deadline for the “coordination period” being April 12. Political platform presentations live on television are scheduled for April 13-14, followed by public opinion polls to be conducted from April 15-17.

The DPP’s Central Executive Committee is set to announce a presidential candidate on April 24.

Cho said Saturday the worst scenario in the event of unsuccessful coordination is a split in the party, and all efforts will be made to prevent that from happening.

Cho said a five-member team has been assembled to find common ground between Tsai and Lai and is endeavoring to arrange a meeting between the two, though no date has yet been finalized.

The team comprises Cho, Presidential Office Secretary-General Chen Chu (陳菊), Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) and Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦).

When asked about the upcoming primary the same day, Tsai said that she will do her best to work with the team.

Su also weighed in and urged Tsai and Lai to work together to achieve the best result for Taiwan, adding no one in the party wishes to see DPP split.

Taiwan’s next presidential and legislative elections take place on Jan. 11, 2020.

By Yeh Su-ping, Sunrise Huang and Chung Yu-chen