Dr. James Soong Announcing His Bid For The Presidency
Let me start by quoting Tagore. “It is the most distant course that comes nearest to thyself, and that training is the most intricate which leads to the utter simplicity of a tune.”
I’ve been traveling on this most distant course for 25 years! Five times I’d entered the race to become the President of the Republic of China and garnered nearly 18 million votes in total. To me, every vote is a life time of affirmation, for which I’m extremely grateful.
Election Day on January 11th of 2020 will mark the conclusion of my 6th and “final” campaign for the presidency. We are clear minded that the odds for James Soong winning the election are very low. But when I made up my mind to embark on the last mile of my political career it was without resentment or dismay. Just the opposite, I was freely content. The reason I am running this time is very similar to what motivated me to enter public service in the very beginning.
James Soong’s decision to serve was motivated by the belief in “God will reward the diligent.” This is a belief I’ve talked and written about most often and have for the past 25 years internalized as a motto to live by. “God will reward the diligent” came from the Book of Changes. It means God loves those that are diligent and will reward them with success. In another word, the teaching dovetailed perfectly with the Taiwanese people’s proud ethos of “winning by working hard!” A 77 year-old James Soong is running for president for the sixth time because one can only win by not being afraid to lose! By running, he wants to rekindle the pragmatic spirit the Taiwanese people was once famous for: “Winning by working hard!”
As a veteran of politics for over 40 years, I can proudly say I was a full participant and contributor to Taiwan’s evolving from an authoritarian system to a free and open democracy. I helped end martial law, lift the ban on political parties and press restrictions and amend Article 100 (domestic security) to end political persecution.
James Soong was instrumental in abolishing the “Permanent Congress” and paving the way for direct presidential elections and other democratic reforms.
During the peaceful revolution of the 80’s and 90’s, I felt deeply the pride and confidence of the Taiwanese people. Contrast with today’s polarization, chaos and stagnation, James Soong felt an obligation to once again stand up and stand with my fellow citizens. To renew and rediscover our pride and confidence!
Truth be told, I’d only contemplated running again on the morning of September 17, after Mr. Jerry Guo announced his withdrawal on the previous evening. I tossed and turned in bed that night worrying that if the Taiwanese people cannot free themselves of the “emotional blackmail” and “fear mongering” from the extreme partisans of the Blue and Green, it would be a tragedy for our country.
If a candidate with the international stature and the wherewithal did not come forward to help Taiwan navigate through the treacherous power game being played by the United States, China and Japan, it would be a pity.
Even though we are currently under such a gloomy and rueful cloud, I remain optimistic! That’s because I’m convinced Freedom and Democracy is Taiwan people’s common DNA. No party or politician will be able to sell Taiwan out. We have to have faith in each other and especially in our young. This generation of young people places a much higher bar for freedom and democracy than our generation.
I know many political activists who believe in and are genuine about “a welfare state that benefits all.” More than half of them are young people with bright futures. But our electoral system places a constraint on political parties other than the Blue and Green. For 25 years, it’s always been a battle of the two parties. There is no room for a third power to rise. If we don’t change our electoral system, Taiwan will always be drowning in the nightmare of the Blue-Green “emotional blackmail” and “fear mongering” and languishing in status quo!
January 11, 2020, will be James Soong’s “Final Battle.” I’ll be playing the role of “The Lonely Underdog.” I’ve been preparing myself for this battle for 44 years. For the first 14 years of my public service, I learned under the tutelage of the late former president, Mr. Chiang Ching-kuo, and the late former premier, Sun Yun Suan, on how to manage a country and to always have the people’s welfare in mind and be selfless. Then I was appointed the governor of the Province of Taiwan. I adhered to the principle of “every step taking is a step forward” and visited every corners of our island and learned that “there’s no such thing as a trivial matter when it comes to the issues concerning our people” and also “a tired official makes a higher citizenry.”
I love this passage in the Avatamsaka Sutra: “Stay true to oneself and enlightenment will come.” I am now carefree. My personal outcome is no longer important. I’ve completely put to rest my struggle of the past 44 years. James Soong is beginning his “Final Battle” without any burden or baggage.
This battle is not a battle for revenge. I firmly believe every political party in Taiwan has made real contribution to the country. My only wish is to open a new chapter for the freedom and democracy of Taiwan!
My wish is for the Republic of China to change from a quasi-presidential system to a parliamentary system.
My wish is for the voting age to be lowered to 18 so the younger generation can assume the mantle of their civic duty earlier. Also, for our educational system to be more grass root and less top down.
My wish is for a lower threshold for political party participation and a higher share of legislative safe seats for political parties.
My wish is for a lower requirement for the distribution of election finance funds so that elections are not limited to Blue and Green but multi-colored with a rainbow of small parties flourishing.
I sincerely wish Taiwanese voters can say goodbye to despair. To break free from the false dichotomy of “vote Green or Taiwan will desist” or “vote Blue or ROC is no more” perpetrated by the Blue-Green emotional wreckers. And stop punishing yourself by thinking the choices are only DPP, KMT, Cancel DPP or Never KMT. There are alternatives.
My wish is that every Taiwanese can put a spigot to their tears and exercise their free will. “Vote tearfully” is counter-productive to the cause of freedom and democracy and self destructive! Continuing down this path is not an option! I sincerely wish Taiwan can return to the ethos of “God will reward the diligent” of yesteryear, with every citizen believing in the maxim of “if you work hard, success will come!” and to overcome obstacles with mutual respect and tolerance.
Taiwan has the three advantages, including strategic geopolitical location, a highly cultivated society and democracy. We should treasure and use these advantages to the utmost! The Republic of China is a remarkable country. We are the perfect amalgamation of Chinese culture, Western culture, Japanese culture and indigenous Taiwan culture. We can delicately find our own way to flourish among the three powers of Sino-US-Japan. The road may be long and full of obstacles. But I am certain where there’s a will, there’s a way.
James Soong’s final battle is not for fame or fortune. Winning and losing is irrelevant. What matters is that Taiwan wins! ROC triumphs!