Taiwan elected 59-year-old Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party as the island’s first female president on Saturday, ousting the Nationalists from the presidential palace after a campaign that hinged on issues of relations with mainland China, the slowing economy, government transparency and social justice. Here are her first remarks to the media.
Friends from the domestic and international media. Thank you for your patience.
Today, the Taiwanese people have used their ballots to make history. We have now experienced the third transition of political power. For the first time, there has also been a transition of Taiwan’s legislative majority. I would like to express my deepest gratitude to all the people that went to the ballot box today and casted their sacred vote. Regardless of how you voted, the exercise of democratic expression was the most important meaning of this election.
In 2016, through our democratic elections, we have yet again showed the world the pride of being a democratic country and how proud we are as Taiwanese. Our message to the international community is that democracy, as a value, is deeply engrained in the Taiwanese people. Our democratic way of life is forever the resolve of Taiwan’s 23 million people.
I would also like to thank my two admirable opponents: Chairman Eric Chu from the KMT and Chairman James Soong from the PFP. I want to thank them for showcasing the spirit of our democracy and letting this election run smoothly. Although we have battled each other during this election, their critique and suggestions will now serve as motivation for me to work harder and be better.
I believe that further to competition with each other, political parties can work together. In the interim between the new legislature and the presidential inauguration, the DPP will maintain closer communication and consultations with the current government, in accordance with the constitutional framework. We will support the government in maintaining political stability and normalcy in the transition period.
We also look forward to working with the main political parties to establish a framework for discussing major policies. We will put political polarization behind us and look forward to the arrival of an era of ‘New Politics’ in Taiwan.
We would like to also thank all the voters that voted for Tsai Ing-wen, Chen Chien-jen, the DPP, and our legislative candidates. Thank you for helping the DPP stand up again and for again entrusting us to govern this country.
For me, this is not just about an election victory. The results today tell me that the people want to see a government more willing to listen to the people, a government that is more transparent and accountable, and a government that is more capable of leading us past our current challenges and taking care of those in need. They tell me that the people expect a government that can lead this country into a new generation and a government that is steadfast in protecting this country’s sovereignty.
Today represents the first kilometer in our road to reform. The responsibility that has been entrusted to us is the strongest measure of support for my future reforms. I promise: the new legislature that will take office on February 1 and the new government that will take office on May 20 will turn these expectations into reality as a matter of the highest priority.
We have to also be candid in saying that reform will not happen in one day. And the challenges that Taiwan faces will not immediately disappear. But in the four years ahead, I will do everything I can to realize my promises: to turn Taiwan into a more advanced country, engage in the necessary development of our infrastructure, and fix the policy failures of the past. I will rebuild the people’s trust in government and create a stable foundation for Taiwan’s future development.
On behalf of the Taiwanese people, I would also like to use this opportunity to thank our international friends, including the U.S., Japan, and other countries, for their support towards Taiwan’s democratic election. As part of international society, Taiwan is willing to participate in international cooperation efforts, sharing the same benefits and shouldering the same responsibilities as our partners from around the world. We will also greatly contribute towards peace and stability in the region.
During this election, I had promised on many occasions, that I will build a consistent, predictable, and sustainable cross-strait relationship. As the 14th president-elect of the Republic of China, I reaffirm that after my new administration takes office on May 20, the Republic of China constitutional order, the results of cross-strait negotiations, interactions and exchanges, and democratic principles and the will of the Taiwanese people, will become the foundation for future cross-strait relations. My position will move past partisan politics. Following the will and consensus of the Taiwanese people, we will work to maintain the status quo for peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, in order to bring the greatest benefits and well-being to the Taiwanese people.
I also want to emphasize that both sides of the strait have a responsibility to find mutually acceptable means of interaction that are based on dignity and reciprocity. We must ensure that no provocations or accidents take place. The results of today’s election showcases the will of the Taiwanese people. It is the shared resolve of Taiwan’s 23 million people that the Republic of China is a democratic country. Our democratic system, national identity, and international space must be respected. Any forms of suppression will harm the stability of cross-strait relations.
Finally, I want to emphasize that I have an important responsibility and that is to strengthen the unity of this country.
Over the past few days, we have seen news that has shaken Taiwanese society. An entertainer – a young 16 year old girl – working in South Korea – recently attracted opposition after she was filmed holding the Republic of China flag. This incident has angered many Taiwanese people, regardless of their political affiliation.
This particular incident will serve as a constant reminder to me about the importance of our country’s strength and unity to those outside our borders. This will be one of the most important responsibilities for me as the next president of the Republic of China.
Taiwan has many challenges ahead, both from outside and inside the country. This election is now over and that brings to an end the conflicts and friction of the election campaign. I will march forward together with the 23 million people of Taiwan. Together, we will overcome the challenges that this country faces. We will not be divided by an election. Instead, we will become even more united because of our democracy.
Thank you everybody.