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June, 1, 2016

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Tsai promises power transition task force

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) promised during the final round of presidential policy presentations on Friday that she would form a special task force to ensure a smooth transfer of power in the four-month period between the election and inauguration of the new government.

Kuomintang (KMT) candidate Eric Chu (朱立倫), speaking first, called for the formation of a new Cabinet comprising multiple parties after the election.

He said that Taiwan could not afford four months of idling between the election of a new Legislature and May 20, when Taiwan's new president assumes office.

He accused Tsai of being unwilling to ensure national stability during the lame duck period.

Meanwhile, People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) promised that if he were elected, he would amend the Constitution so that the president could assume office two months earlier. He said he would meet with outgoing President Ma Ying-jeou to form a transitional Cabinet.

On Thursday, local media reported that Ma intended to relinquish his presidential power to appoint the Cabinet and to grant that power to the future majority party of the Legislative Yuan.

Tsai Pressed on Pork, China

As in preceding debates and policy presentations, Chu (and to some extent Soong) pressed Tsai to declare her stance on the "1992 Consensus," referring to the tacit agreement between Taiwan and mainland China that there is "one China" consisting of different interpretations.

Tsai responded that she "did not deny" the existence of a meeting between cross-strait negotiators that led to a future agreement termed the "1992 Consensus."

She reiterated that the core of her future cross-strait policy would adhere to the Constitution of the R.O.C. She added that such a policy would avoid "surprises and provocation."

When pressed on her stance on U.S. pork imports containing the leanness-enhancing additive ractopamine, Tsai said that any discussion on the issue was "premature," and she criticized Chu for "attaching labels" to her for the sake of electioneering.

Addressing speculation that high-level DPP officials would visit the U.S. after a Tsai victory, Soong said the DPP should not make Taiwan a chess pawn of the United States and China.

Candidates Appeal for Unity

Much of the tone of the policy presentations was conciliatory, in a sharp contrast to the more pointed exchanges between the candidates in previous presentations and debates.

On Friday, all three candidates called for national unity in order to solve present-day problems that plague the nation.

In her opening presentation, Tsai called for treating Taiwan's aboriginal people with respect and pledged to make a formal apology for past wrongs if elected president.

Striking a tone of ethnic harmony, Tsai admitted her party's role in provoking tensions with Taiwanese of mainlander descent.

"If I become president, I guarantee that contradictions between one's provincial ancestry will never again occur in Taiwan," Tsai said.

She also vowed to make Hakka an official national language.

Chu said that he vowed to be "a defender of happiness" no matter what the result of the elections. He appealed to citizens to vote and to bring stickers of the national flag to the ballot boxes.

(Related stories on page 16)

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