Candidates highlight competence, down-to-earth nature, experience

TAIPEI (CNA) — At Sunday’s presidential debate, the last chance to impress local voters in a televised setting, the three candidates shaped their closing messages to project images they hope will spur them to victory on Jan. 11.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said her administration has managed to make significant progress on important and difficult issues, and that she valued the promises she made to the Taiwanese people despite facing pressure.

While describing herself as “not a very interesting person,” Tsai said she was the right candidate who people could count on.

“It is not my style to offer a pie in the sky. My style is to have my feet firmly planted on the ground,” the president said.

Tsai said she worked hard to carry out her policies since taking office, and that she has made the greatest effort among the three candidates to tell the voters what she plans to do for the country’s future.

Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) of the Kuomintang (KMT) made an emotional appeal by asking those watching the debate to close their eyes and think about what challenges are facing Taiwan.

The Tsai administration is like “an oyster rice noodles I ordered at the night market in which I couldn’t find any oysters,” Han said, criticizing Tsai’s policies as not being driven by a real passion for people.

The three presidents Taiwan has seen over the past 20 years were only political elites and graduates of National Taiwan University who knew very little about governance, said Han, blasting former presidents Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) for being “greedy,” Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) for being “weak,” and Tsai for being “empty.”

Han reiterated that he will stand with the common people if elected, vowing to keep the county safe and make people wealthy.

People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜), meanwhile, tried to win voters over with his qualifications and record of service as a political veteran.

“I am not (running for president) for my family, or the interest of any political party,” said Soong, who has been involved in every presidential election since 2000 except for 2008.

His goal is to make the world see the real “Taiwan experience,” Soong said, adding that he will always make people’s interests his priority.

Taiwan’s presidential and legislative elections will be held on Jan. 11, 2020. Tsai has a big lead in the polls over Han, with Soong trailing well behind.