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March 27, 2017

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Shih Ming-teh: Equality is necessary for freer Taiwan

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The China Post sat down with former political dissident, ex-Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman, and current independent candidate for president Shih Ming-teh on Tuesday to discuss his outlook for the country, his major policy positions and his perspectives on the current election campaign.

A Difficult Hurdle

Shih, 74, reported that his campaign had collected roughly one-third of the 300,000 signatures required by election regulations to validate his candidacy as an independent candidate. He said that the hurdle represented a clear motive by Taiwan's leading political parties to hinder alternative candidates, and that many people are squeamish about presenting their national identification cards to his office staff in order to complete a petition.

Arguing that populism had driven Taiwan's political culture to become a popularity contest more suited for local elections, the activist who also led millions in street demonstrations to oust former President Chen Shui-bian from office nearly nine years ago said that major political parties lacked true visions for the nation.

"All the candidates are trying to be on everyone's good side," he mused, saying that rallying behind a "consensus" had become more of an exercise of weighing opinion polls rather than starting from concrete positions "founded on core values." Shih said that party white papers outlining key policy positions no longer originate from political leaders themselves, but are instead formulated first by dominant interests and subsequently taken up by candidates.

"We might as well let the polling centers run as president and save us time," he quipped.

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