Written by James Smyth.

The following is my abridged transcription of the three presidential candidates’ statements during the Central Election Commission’s third forum for the candidates to share their views, held January 8, 2016. The candidates each gave three 10-minute statements, and their order of rotation was determined by lottery. The video is available here.

Eric Chu‘s 朱立倫 First Statement:

The DPP hasn’t made concrete policy proposals despite all its boycotts. After the election the new majority party should form the Cabinet; we can’t wait 4 months. Tsai says this is just electoral manipulation; this shows she doesn’t want to take responsibility, so give the vote to us, who can.

Our 5 big livelihood differences with the DPP: (1) Raising minimum wage to NT$22k next year and NT$30k in 4 years. Tsai proposed raising MW to NT$22k in 2011 but as her poll numbers have risen she’s gotten further and further away from the people. (2) Pork. US Congress just reported Tsai will open TW to US pork. I will be transparent and protect Taiwanese while Tsai will use black-box methods. (3) Social housing: Tsai has promised to build 1XX thousand social houses but hasn’t said where money or land will come from. It’s impossible. Our plan is concrete and sustainable. (4) Our long-term care plan is better. (5) Pensions: We will respect 軍公教 (military,  civil servants, teachers) and protect their rights and interests and achieve generational justice, unlike DPP.

In cross-strait relations, does Tsai support 1992 Consensus? Does she support Taiwan independence, 2-state theory, or the ROC being a lost state? In international relations, can we go back to DPP’s closed-state and money diplomacy when KMT has won Taiwan visa privileges from so many countries? We support all-volunteer military; DPP unclear on whether to revive the draft or not. In TPP and RCEP, especially RCEP, DPP is unclear. DPP also panning cross-strait goods pact. The DPP’s energy policy is contradictory. A party must have clear policies for everything. We’re definitely switching presidents this year, but we need to pick the right replacement, not the wrong one. The DPP’s policies in many areas could lead the nation into chaos. We need to pick the right person, and I’ve prepared for that.

Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) First Statement:

I’d like to speak to our indigenous people first. I have Paiwan ancestry, and my Paiwan name is Jugu. Indigenous people have had it hard and suffered a lot of discrimination. (Tells a story about someone discriminated against.) As president I will formally apologize to indigenous people for their mistreatment by the country. The KMT is pushing indigenous legislation, but it doesn’t have substance. A real law needs to be based on communities (部落) and provide sufficient resources. The DPP’s legislation will do that. We are running Chen Ying and Walis Pelin in indigenous districts. We respect indigenous peoples and will work for them.

Next I’d like to talk to new immigrants, who I’ve worked with, who have moved me, and who have made Taiwan better and been a pillar for it. We’ll make social welfare programs for new immigrants fairer, help their children learn more about their native cultures, and have Taiwan work more with SE Asia.

Next I’d like to talk to our waisheng (外省 post-49 migrants from China) friends. I acknowledge the DPP in the past hasn’t done enough for waisheng groups. History gave us stereotypical views about them. But these conflicts are in the past. We should give waisheng contributions more respect. They’re a part of Taiwan’s history. Many waisheng also suffered under the White Terror, and we should recognize that. Any party that creates anxiety about an ethnic group must undertake introspection, and any that tears apart the country based on ethnic differences should be rejected. I want to bring the whole country together. A 90+ year old author said at an event he’d like waisheng and bensheng to come together as one, moving everyone, and if I’m elected we won’t divide on ethnic lines again.

Finally, I’d like to talk to the Hakka community. The past DPP admin did much for Hakka, including (list of accomplishments, like starting the HAC). I’ve proposed developing a line of Hakka communities in the mountains with special Hakka industries and tourist highlights. (Speaking Hakka) I’d like to develop Hakka culture. Some may not have understood the Hakka I just spoke, but Hakka friends may not have understood when we spoke Hoklo at past events. We must preserve the Hakka language and culture. I’ll work hard for every group.

James Soong‘s 宋楚瑜 First Statement:

Debates are a manifestation of democracy. It’s been almost 30 years since the end of Martial Law, and society has changed, reformed, and opened up a lot. Chu talks like the KMT’s in opposition: you’re the ruling party right now, and you can do the things you promise right now! I approve of the DPP reaching out to minority groups as Tsai just did, but what did the past DPP administration actually achieve for indigenous groups? Everyone talks “reform” now but the more the KMT and DPP have “reformed” education and taxes the worse it’s gotten, amiright? You have to be able to implement your nice-sounding policies, and the KMT and DPP haven’t. We have more and more political parties but we need a great leader for real reform. Regarding US pork, the DPP must be careful in international relations. In cross-strait relations, the president can’ t make Taiwan a chess piece used by China and the US. You’re both worried about a lot of things this last week, like vote canvassing, but no matter how much you all can get votes, can you actually govern? Why are so many old KMT veterans not going to vote? Because they’re so dissatisfied with the party. We need a government that really cares about the citizens. I’ve been everywhere in Taiwan, and I’ll serve everyone well. Don’t listen to what these parties will do: remember what they’ve done up until now. They’ve done badly. Pick a good leader (me).

Eric Chu’s Second Statement:

Tsai talked a lot about bringing ethnic groups together. I personally represent Taiwan’s ethnic groups coming together. And I’ve worked a lot with indigenous, new resident, and Hakka communities (speaks Hakka) as a magistrate/mayor. I’ll talk about taking care of our workers and their families. I’m confident the so-called “little things” (in Tsai’s words) I’ve proposed are big things for them. And our social housing policies are realistic; as a municipal executive I know what we can do. We’re building 4,000 units now and will build 3,000 more in New Taipei. (Promises about 90,000 units through different means.) In long-term care, we’ll build cafeterias, clubs, and daycare centers. Tsai’s plan is what the administration’s doing now, but to really take care of elderly now you must do more: make young people willing to go into care, etc. The budget Tsai has promised isn’t enough: it’ll suffice for “short-term care” not “long-term care”. And the taxes DPP wants to raise for its plans won’t necessarily cover that scant spending. The KMT promises public pre-K (age 3+). We’ll reform 12-year education. We’ll tax the rich more and cut taxes on the middle class. The KMT stands with all working families. I’m a father of two and I know we all want our families to do well.

Tsai Ing-wen’s Second Statement:

Next I’ll talk to our longtime allies, laborers. I’ve communicated with many labor leaders recently and I do that for all problems. On minimum wage, we want its adjustment to be systemic and based on cost of living, etc. We won’t politicize this issue, and that’s my biggest difference with the KMT. Next I’ll give full explanations in response to Chu’s questions.

First, the 1992 Consensus. A consensus was reached in 1992 for further talks, and the KMT has twisted that history into something else. Statements of Chu, Hung, and Ma recently have pulled Taiwan closer and closer to China. We’ll do talks based on the original spirit of 1992. We want talks w/China that are mutually acceptable.

Second, international relations. “Closed country” is just a KMT label of us. We support formal and economic diplomacy with all countries, based on our own strength, not China’s goodwill. Democracy is neither blue nor green.

Third, Chu’s statement about our draft position is incorrect. We won’t take Taiwan back to the original draft system. We want to improve the all-volunteer system. Ma’s isn’t working because it falls short overall, including pay and training aspects. In energy, I’ll keep electricity prices stable, look out for ordinary citizens, and decrease fluctuations by using prices to lower electricity use at peak periods (smoothing out usage patterns). The KMT says nuclear’s cheaper: that’s a lie. Taking care of nuclear waste is very expensive.

Fourth, joining TPP and RCEP, we support multilateral deals that decrease our dependence on one country. I’ve gone to India, Indonesia, and Singapore in recent years to discuss RCEP and other trade deals.

Fifth, it’s too early to say whether we’ll open Taiwan to US pork and Chu’s electioneering on this is disappointing. We’ll have strict inspections to ensure product safety. The Congress report’s focus is that the KMT is singlemindedly focused on China trade while the DPP favors more diverse trade relationships and is more comprehensive, and doesn’t say Tsai promised anything on pork; that was the author’s speculation.

Sixth, regarding the post-election Cabinet, I’ll invite all parties to discuss the 4-month interregnum and talk to the administration about policies, and ask the president to respect the new Legislature. I assure you the KMT’s proposal doesn’t have the country’s long-term good in mind. The president has the right to appoint the premier and ministers. Chu, what right do you have to speak for the president on this issue?

Finally, I know you’re making your final efforts, but they must be based on the truth, not twisting others’ words. The nation is watching. Stop slapping labels on people to incite antagonism.

James Soong’s Second Statement:

Chu and Tsai discussed the long wait between the election and inauguration. Didn’t your parties create this? Your negotiations then were self-interested, not based on what’s best for the country. I can feel from the KMT’s talk it’s already given up on being the Legislature’s biggest party. The DPP was also irresponsible. After being elected, I’d talk to Ma. I’d propose shortening my own term so the new president could take over in March. The KMT and DPP are always kicking policies back and forth, pointing fingers at each other, and getting nothing done. The various foreign crises we’re seeing show the president must be a strong leader. The falling birthrate shows things are changing; we need someone who can handle that. The policies I’ve proposed show I can. I have the right personal qualities too. (Tells a story about looking out for an indigenous community during a natural disaster when he was provincial governor.) (Tells a story about looking out for Taiwan’s fishermen as provincial governor.) As president I’ll work with the major parties to take care of the people they haven’t. I’m happy Tsai advocates openness to everyone given what the DPP’s said about Chinese wives before.

Eric Chu’s Third Statement:

Tsai just said “if I’m elected president next year.” I was shocked, because the election’s this year, and next week. Tsai just said “it’s too early” to discuss pork. It’s not. I won’t label people and be negative like the DPP; I want a united Taiwan. You just said you’ll have a united diplomacy, but you recently criticized our diplomats, making people worried. Soong’s criticism of us, I’ll reflect on, but it’s all things we’re already reforming.

There’s only 8 days until the election. The KMT drafted me 2 months ago. I’ve had no hesitation. Taiwan’s at a crossroads. Will we choose a path to openness or closedness? I’m most worried not about myself, but about Taiwan choosing the wrong path because of our past shortcomings. Our peace is precious and as president I’ll systematize it so everyone can enjoy it more. We can’t go back to closedness and making trouble. I apologize for the KMT’s shortcoming and my past hesitation to run for president. Taiwan just can’t pick the wrong path. I know some are pessimistic about us, but I won’t give up. None of you can give up either. We can’t give up the ROC’s values. I’ve used all my time and energy to go all over Taiwan and even to America on this campaign and seen everyone’s passion. Despite rain, wind, and burning sun, everyone’s come out to see us, and I’m so moved.

Many friends say they’re worried about DPP governance and I understand that. But I’ll tell Soong I’m also very worried the PFP will work together with the DPP, as it has numerous times this past legislative term, including on something that hurt Hakkas a lot, and as it has in many city and county councils, making PFP supporters worried. I understand there may be grudges between Soong and Ma or Soong and the KMT, but as president I’ll reach out to Soong to work together to help the country on the basis of our cross-strait consensus. Soong has said before the PFP and DPP are too far apart on cross-strait isuses.

The KMT’s candidates are working hard in their races, and we hope you’ll support them. The KMT’s core value is to defend the ROC. We’ll protect Taiwan. We love the ROC most of all. Everyone, stand up and come to our parade in Taipei tomorrow, and come out and vote for us January 16 wearing these ROC flag stickers.

Tsai Ing-wen’s Third Statement:

Thank you CEC. Thank you Chu and Soong for your critiques, although I don’t think Soong has been entirely fair in his criticism of the DPP (smiles). I believe all 3 of us love this country, and I hope no matter the election result we can all lead the nation to unity and reform.

As president I’ll work hard to improve people’s lives and every community’s development. The Taipei-New Taipei-Keelung-Yilan-Taoyuan area is our international trade hub and will continue to drive our innovation. (Notes a plan in Keelung, now DPP-governed.) (Discusses Taoyuan’s many advantages and importance.) Hsinchu is Taiwan’s S&T and R&D center and will continue to be. The Hakka communities of Taoyuan, Hsinchu, and Miaoli will be developed as Hakka industry, culture, and tourism hotbed. The Taichung-Changhua-Nantou area has world-class precision manufacturing industries and complete supply chains. Taichung will be the base for academia-industry-government cooperation on industrial upgrading and ICT integration to make smart industries. Yunlin is the first place to integrate green industries and agriculture. These industries will take root in the Yunlin-Chiayi-Tainan area, which will continue to be Taiwan’s chief agricultural region. As president I would also integrate its agriculture with S&T and marketing. Tainan’s Shalun will be an innovative green energy center. Tainan will be the center for Asia’s biggest biotech pharmaceutical cluster, which will also be linked with other Taiwanese S&T centers. Kaohsiung, and the Kaohsiung-Pingtung area, will be Taiwan’s maritime center. I’ll upgrade its ports and related industries, including cruises. The DPP has a Kaohsiung-Penghu plan that will upgrade Penghu’s tourism, education, and medicine. In Hualien, Taitung, Kinmen, and Matsu, which have rich ecologies and leisure resources, we will preserve culture and make life more convenient for citizens, especially transportation.

My fellow citizens, we have a whole series of strategies to make your lives better. Give the DPP a chance to carry them out.

Now I’d like to talk to the youth. Recently we put out an ad called “Walk with the children“. We mentioned Taiwan is at a standstill now, but that standstill has given us a better chance to see what we need. I’ve seen young people pursuing justice, as they did in the Hung Chung-chiu, Sunflower, and anti-black-box-curriculum movements. Youths are giving Taiwan a future path to somewhere not far away: democracy and freedom. As a politician I feel deeply these youths have changed society and the DPP. It’s an honor for me to lead the DPP at this difficult time. The youths have told me I’m responsible not just to the party but to all young people, and I’ve opened up the party to close cooperation with young people.

The DPP party list has experts in food safety, social welfare, and many other issues, showing its commitment to reform. When we take over we will get right to work on solutions, unlike Ma, and let youths participate. We are in the vanguard of this era. Our reforms will increase social confidence in government and address issues like housing justice, pension insolvency, the disadvantaged, child care, elderly care, industrial upgrading, legislative reform, and stable cross-strait relations. This is the nation the DPP will create, and if you support that, support me and the DPP. All of your efforts in recent years have already done a lot for Taiwan. And your votes in the 2014 election were one big step to that. Let’s take another this January 16. The DPP stands with you, and every one of your votes will light up this country.

James Soong’s Third Statement:

Everyone knows Taiwan must face its current predicament pragmatically. I guarantee to everyone I will use my experience to implement the good suggestions made by all us candidates. We will make a government everyone’s confident in. Many media have said the other two candidates have marginalized me. I thank the two other candidates, who haven’t found anything to criticize about me.

We are the People First Party, literally. Our current legislators don’t stand with the DPP; they stand with the people. So they stand with the DPP and against the KMT on legislative plans when the DPP is right and the KMT is wrong about what’s best for the people. I can speak the many languages Taiwan’s citizens speak.

We stand up for the Taiwanese way of life. Recently I traveled to Western historical sites, and the tour guide made a big impression on me by saying, “Rome wasn’t built in a day. Venice wasn’t either. Western philosophy, too, was gradually built up over hundreds of years by adding and multiplying more and more ideas. Yet Eastern cultures instead subtract and divide.” Taiwan, too, needs to add more and more things and integrate more and more. Taiwan must be free, and add and multiply Western, Chinese, and East Asian cultures to create a unique Taiwanese culture. The DPP has contributed to it with localism. The KMT contributed to it by protecting the country. The KMT’s biggest shame is being unable to implement the Three Principles of the People in China. The ROC has now existed 105 years. Has it ever had a true presidential office over that time? We’ve always used subtraction and division instead of bringing everyone together. Taiwan can’t close itself off. We are small, but we are great.

I supported Lee Teng-hui’s localization movement and helped the DPP end martial law. The PFP’s never sold out the Taiwanese people. We’ll bring back Taiwan’s glory, its freedom and democracy. I’m over 70, and pursuing humanistic values. I’m a proud Taiwanese and free Chinese, and a hope for a democratic future. With a true Taiwanese we can have a true Taiwan. Go Taiwan. Vote for James Soong.

James Smyth is a Taipei based translator.