Legislator Freddy Lim quits NPP to run as independent

NPP Legislator Freddy Lim announced on Thursday his plans to leave the party to run as an independent in the upcoming legislative election. (NOWnews)
NPP Legislator Freddy Lim announced on Thursday his plans to leave the party to run as an independent in the upcoming legislative election. (NOWnews)

TAIPEI (CNA) — New Power Party (NPP) Legislator Freddy Lim (林昶佐) announced on Thursday that he is leaving the party to run as an independent in the upcoming legislative election.

Lim, one of the founding members of the NPP and a former chair of Amnesty International Taiwan, made his announcement at a press conference after NPP members met to discuss strategy for the 2020 presidential and legislative elections the same day.

Over the past few years, Lim said, he has repeatedly raised the issue of how the party should position itself as the third largest party in the legislature.

However, the NPP was unable to reach a consensus on the party’s future direction, as a result of which he has decided to “step forward in the right direction,” the heavy metal singer-turned-lawmaker said.

The NPP could not agree on whether the party should get behind the re-election bid of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Lim said.

Calling Tsai the “unquestionable choice” in the face of China’s suppression of Taiwan, Lim said other NPP members wanted to endorse Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), who is seen as a contender in the 2020 presidential election against Tsai and Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) of the opposition Kuomintang (KMT), despite having not yet declared his intention to run.

Lim said he has no plan to join the DPP or the new party Ko just formed at present and will instead contend Taipei’s fifth district as an independent.

In response, NPP chairman Chiu Hsien-chih (邱顯智) and former party chairman Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) said they will try and persuade Lim to stay, adding that the party’s strategy for the 2020 election is essentially the same as that of Lim.

Although the NPP recognizes Tsai’s efforts to defend national sovereignty, cooperation in the run-up to the 2020 elections is only possible when two sides share the same goals, Chiu said, adding that the party has no plan to throw its support behind Ko.

Huang, the NPP’s most visible public figure, said he supports the party’s decision to persuade Lim to stay as the two share the same goal — safeguarding Taiwan’s sovereignty and democracy.

Huang has been one of the main voices in the NPP insisting that the party should operate as a force balancing the DPP and KMT.

He has said publicly he would leave the party without hesitation if it chooses to become a “little DPP” and support Tsai’s bid for re-election.

The NPP, which emerged from the Sunflower movement, was founded in January 2015. With Lim’s departure, the NPP has three seats in the 113-seat Legislative Yuan and 16 local councilors nationwide.

By Cheng Chun-hua, Yu Hsiao-han, Liu Kuan-ting and Chung Yu-chen