TAIPEI, Taiwan - Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen yesterday said the Jan. 16 elections would be a watershed moment for Taiwan's democracy.
While campaigning in Greater Taichung, Tsai told a crowd of supporters that the election would see whether the Taiwanese people have the will to protect freedom and the democratic way of life, according to the Central News Agency.
"This is a very important watershed moment," she said.
The democratic system, for which the Taiwanese people fought for decades, is a precious asset that should not be taken away or destroyed, Tsai said.
The presidential candidate said that defending democracy was not only this generation's responsibility to Taiwan, but this generation's responsibility to the next.
Tsai was widely seen as addressing President Ma Ying-jeou's remarks during a historic summit with Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Singapore on Saturday.
After the meeting, Tsai called the performance "extremely disappointing."
The people of Taiwan had expected an open and transparent meeting - and more importantly, a meeting that did not come with political preconditions, she said.
But Ma instead used the international stage to foist political preconditions and a framework on the Taiwanese people to limit their choices in the future.
'Most important responsibility'
Ma responded to Tsai, saying he was "not that surprised" by her evaluation.
Tsai returned the volley yesterday, calling the president uncommunicative and unable to hear the voices of others.
The most important responsibility of the president of a democratic country is to protect liberty, democracy and the freedom of choice, and Ma has done none of these things, Tsai said in Greater Taichung.
Earlier Sunday she took to Facebook to deepen her criticism of Ma's remarks at the summit, saying his performance betrayed "Taiwan's status quo" and was "disappointing, even infuriating."
At the campaign event, media asked Tsai for her reply to Ma's remarks about Chinese missiles in the post-summit press conference in Singapore.
Ma had told international media that during the meeting with Xi, he had raised the issue of dismantling the Chinese missiles facing Taiwan. Xi had replied that the missiles were not targeted at Taiwan.
Tsai said yesterday that the statement was "unacceptable to the majority of the Taiwanese people."
The National Security Council and the Ministry of Defence - including those under the Ma administration - have reported on the Chinese military threat, Tsai said.
If Ma does not take a stand for concerns of the Taiwanese people, and goes so far as to act as a mouthpiece for the other party during an international press conference, he is not fulfilling the expectations of the people, she said.
A 'sour' View': Chu
Kuomintang presidential candidate Eric Chu reiterated yesterday that Tsai and the DPP were adopting a "sour" view of a historic moment in cross-strait relations.
The significance of the summit is much larger than any election, Chu told reporters, criticising the opposition party for taking a "self-interested" and "factional" approach.