Taipei, Former Premier Lai Ching-te of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said Friday that the party's presidential nominee should be decided by a primary amid reports that pro-Taiwan independence groups have expressed hope that Lai will step back and allow President Tsai Ing-wen to run unopposed.
Public trust in the party will be at stake if the DPP decides on its presidential candidate without holding a primary, Lai said on his Facebook page.
Lai's comment came after pro-Taiwan independence academics and civic groups called a day earlier for a Tsai-Lai presidential ticket to ensure the survival of a "local regime."
Lai reiterated that he fully intends to enter the primary and win public support to represent the DPP in the 2020 presidential race.
Lai said he wants a fair competition with Tsai.
He pointed out that the purpose of the primary is to let the people decide who will represent the DPP in the 2020 presidential race.
He said that anyone who thinks holding a primary will cause division in the party is wrong a comment believed to be a response to an April 20 remark by Tsai that if the DPP holds a primary, it will split the party.
Meanwhile, Tsai said in a Facebook post that as a DPP member and president of Taiwan, "I believe that the majority of our supporters care more about whether the DPP can unite than whoever wins the primary."
She called for party solidarity in order to continue reforms and protect Taiwan's democracy.
In an effort to find common ground between Tsai and Lai, the DPP has assembled a five-member team comprising DPP Chairman Cho Jung-tai Presidential Office Secretary-General Chen Chu Premier Su Tseng-chang DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming and Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan
The DPP has also postponed the start of the party's presidential primary from April to May 22 in the hope of resolving the differences between Tsai and Lai.
Commenting on the mediation progress, however, Lai said Thursday that during a meeting with Tsai, "there was no discussion on how to conduct the primary, only a request that I quit."
However, Su rejected Lai's remark, saying that the team has not discouraged him from entering the primary.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel