l Former President Lee Teng-hui is in the news again---this time calling for a “viable alternative” beyond just the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) and the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in the next presidential contest. Lee also declared that the primary objective for consolidating all opposition forces is to “vote the incumbent ‘China-leaning’ regime out of office” and put a stop to the government's ongoing “pro-China” policies.
l The former president also identified some key criteria for the suitable candidates that included, first and foremost, the ability to defeat Ma to win the 2012 presidential election, safeguard Taiwan as an independent political entity, lead Taiwan on its own path, uphold and preserve justice, restore social values, and give the people of Taiwan a sense of belonging.
l Among the people identified by local media that might become part of Lee’s “third force,” Legislative Yuan (LY) Speaker Wang Jin-pyng, former DPP Chairman Shih Ming-teh, former Vice President Annette Lu, People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong, and Winston Wang, son of Formosa Plastics Group founder Wang Yung-ching have captured the most attention and interest. Many of these people, however, have either declined to respond to Lee’s proposed idea or have categorically denied related reports.
l Lee’s remarks also put the DPP in an awkward position since the party has not begun internal discussions on the presidential nomination mechanism for 2012, and despite frequent media reports on the potential candidates, none of the speculated names, including former Premier Su Tseng-chang and Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen, have announced plans to run.
l On the other hand, it is no secret that Lee has not been happy with the rapid progress in cross-Strait economic relations since President Ma assumed power in May 2008. From direct air links, Chinese tourists to Taiwan, to the ECFA, Lee has been critical of the Ma administration for making Taiwan’s economy overly dependent on China.
l If Lee moves ahead with this proposed “third force” scheme, the KMT will like adopt a wait-and-see attitude and make sure it will split the opposition and enhance the ruling party’s own prospects in the next presidential showdown.
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