Former premier says he will not quit or run as an ‘independent’

Former Premier Lai Ching-te said on May 27 he will not quit the party nor take legal action even if the changes the rules governing its primary elections. (NOWnews)

TAIPEI (CNA) — Former Premier Lai Ching-te (賴清德), who is seeking the ruling Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) nomination for the 2020 Presidential Election, said on May 27 he will not quit the party nor take legal action even if the changes the rules governing its primary elections.

During an online interview, Lai said he did not want the party to change the rules and timetable for its primary at this late stage, given that he and President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) registered to contest the DPP’s nomination about two months ago.

Changing the rules now could seriously harm the party, he argued.

According to the original timetable agreed on March 13, registration of DPP primary candidates was to have been held March 18-22, followed by public opinion polls April 10-12, and the Central Executive Committee’s announcement of the presidential candidate on April 17.

This arrangement was postponed by a meeting of the DPP Central Executive Committee on April 10.

More recently, Lai and Tsai have been at loggerheads over polling methods for the primary.

The DPP is set to hold a Central Executive Committee meeting Wednesday to discuss the format for the primary.

The pro-Tsai camp has proposed changes to the polling method to use 50 percent landlines and 50 percent mobile phones, whereas the pro-Lai camp opposes the change, which it said would render the poll results unreliable.

Lai’s camp was reported earlier in the day that it will take legal action if the pro-Tsai camp’s proposal is approved during the upcoming committee meeting.

Traditionally the DPP has carried out primary polling by using landlines around Taiwan, but Tsai’s camp is pushing for the poll to include mobile phones.

However, when asked whether he would leave the party to run as an independent in the 2020 Presidential Election, Lai answered: “No, absolutely not.” Even if the party changes the primary mechanism, Lai said, he will not quit the DPP or take legal action to stop such changes.

In addition, Lai called on the DPP Central Executive Committee to adopt his proposal in which he repeated his pledge to support Tsai if she can outperform him in polls against Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) and called on her to do the same.

On Sunday, Lai said he will not attend the committee meeting on Wednesday after learning Tsai will not be present due to her busy schedule.

By Yeh Su-ping and Evelyn Kao