James Soong announces Taiwan presidential bid

People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong yesterday formally announced his running mate, the epidemiology specialist Lin Ruei-shiung, before the two registered to become candidates via a public endorsement campaign at the Central Election Commission (CEC).

The 72-year-old Lin is a professor emeritus in National Taiwan University's College of Public Health. Lacking political experience, Soong's choice of running mate came as a surprise to many.

Making public appearance for the first time yesterday morning to end public speculation, Lin said this is his debut in political event.

He said he decided to join Soong for the campaign because he was deeply moved by the PFP head's speech during a television interview this April.

Lin also noted that they both share the same value in helping the underprivileged of the country.

Lin is a well-known figure in public health but has never held any political posts. He was also the teacher of several health ministers, including Yaung Chih-liang and Yeh Chin-chuan.

During yesterday's press conference, Soong said he knew Lin via Chang Chao-hsiung, his friend and PFP vice chairman.

"I pick the epidemiology specialist Lin since Taiwan's society is currently seriously infected with a terrible disease called 'blue and green confrontation,'" said Soong.

Soong refused to give a direct answer when asked if announcing a running mate means he is determined to run regardless of how many signatures he will get for the presidential bid.

The PFP chairman previously pledged he would definitely run if he can collect more than 1 million signatures for the presidential bid.

However, when asked the same question, Lin said he will not choose to stay in the presidential campaign if the Soong-Lin ticket fails to collect at least 1 million signatures.

Soong and Lin later registered at the CEC to become presidential candidates via a public endorsement campaign. The two also handed in an NT$1 million deposit.

In response to questions whether Lin still holds United States citizenship, since he and his family have been living in America for years, Lin also did not give a straight answer, saying only that he would "handle it" according to related regulations.

Earlier in the day, Premier Wu Den-yih, who is also the KMT's vice presidential candidate, made a final plea for the PFP to come back into the pan-blue coalition.

"We will do our best and will not give up until the last minute," Wu said.

When asked to comment on the ticket, the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said it respects each party's individuality in joining the elections.

Asked to comment on the Soong-Lin ticket, DPP legislator Twu Shiing-jer, a former Department of Health minister, laughed when he first heard the name of Lin, since it took him by surprise.

Twu said Lin was an old acquaintance of his, and he believes Soong's decision was a "brilliant move" that may give him extra votes in appealing to swing voters.