TAIPEI - Tsai Ing-wen, chairwoman of the Democratic Progressive Party, yesterday declared her candidacy for the 2016 presidential election, promising a government that fully serves the interests of the people rather than particular groups or persons.
"I'm not Chen Shui-bian, not Ma Ying-jeou. I'm Tsai Ing-wen," she wrote on her Facebook page announcing her presidential bid. "I seek to create an era that truly belongs to the people."
The distinction she made between herself and the former president Chen and the incumbent Ma is in line with her campaign platform that seeks to play down the factors that have long determined the politics in Taiwan - namely personal charisma and partisanship.
Chen became president in 2000 on a platform of "power rotation," meaning it was time to have his DPP replace the Kuomintang. The once charismatic Ma ousted the DPP in 2008, re-establishing the KMT's rule.
Tsai noted that party politics has become a "negative term" in Taiwan.
"I'm not seeking to lead Taiwan to a DPP era, nor taking it to a Tsai Ing-wen era," said the opposition leader.
She said she is looking to build a government that is transparent, corruption-free, and tolerant, with clearly defined responsibilities and a firm goal of defending the country's sovereignty.
Tsai, who is making her second attempt at the presidency after losing to Ma in 2012, is expected to register her candidacy for the DPP primary today. Registration closes tomorrow, but so far no one has registered.
Tsai is expected to easily win the nomination. She may not be the only candidate in the primary, but most of her major potential challengers from the party, including former DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang and Tainan Mayor William Lai, have already announced they will not run in the election.
It remains uncertain who she will campaign against from the KMT, which suffered a crushing defeat in the November local elections and faces the prospect of losing in the 2016 presidential and legislative elections.
Tsai said she took over the helm at the DPP after the opposition party lost the presidential race in 2008, but she knew clearly that the DPP must get back on its feet or Taiwan will be dominated by only one party, namely the KMT.
She said the biggest problem facing Taiwan now is it does not have a "government that can solve problems."
She said Taiwan needs reform, and she will consolidate all forces in society to achieve reform goals.