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DPP confirms Chen Shui-bian as Presidential candidate

Taipei, 10 July 1999

On Saturday, 10 July 1999, the Taiwan Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) confirmed Mr. Chen Shui-bian as its nominee for the March 2000 presidential election.

Some 391 Democratic Progressive Party delegates unanimously supported the former Taipei Mayor as the party's candidate for president at an extraordinary party congress in Taipei. The vote was a formality as there was no other contestant. In May, former party chairman Hsu Hsin-liang quit the party to pursue an independent presidential bid.

Accepting the nomination, 48-year-old Chen said that he has six campaign issues that he would like to share with the public relating to the next stage of political reforms in Taiwan.

He described the six issues as national security, financial policy, public policy, cultural policy, promoting a sense of "volunteerism," and making Taiwan an "island of information."

The popular politician nicknamed "Ah-bian" said unity will bring strength, and appealed to the party to stand up with the people of Taiwan, so that together they can realize the goal of changing the nation's ruling party.

DPP Chairman Lin Yi-hsiung, who also delivered a speech, said a change of the ruling political party will benefit national development. Lin said the opposition party "has never been so close to taking the mantle of power" in the 13 years since its inception.

The party congress was patterned on party conventions in the United States, with huge photos of Chen and a sea of DPP flags displayed in the convention hall of the Asia Plaza Hotel.

Aboriginal performances and trendy street performances were also staged, adding to the festive atmosphere. Chen appeared on stage under a spotlight, amid the cheers of the crowd and a huge swirl of colored confetti and balloons.

A giant balloon exploded, releasing hundreds of smaller balloons at the moment Chen was officially endorsed and draped in the party colors, while a trumpet played a fanfare to signal victory.

Following his nomination, Chen said he accepted the honor "sincerely and humbly," and followed this with a speech titled "Taiwan's new politics with a solid 100-year foundation -- let us work together to realize a change of administrations."

He described himself as the only person that can carry out the country's "second stage political reforms" to resolve the problems of corrupt politics and constitutional contradictions. Chen said the ruling Kuomintang "has already lost its energy for reform," and that there is therefore no reason to have a "19th Century-style party" continuing to lead Taiwan. "We must stand together with the Taiwan people, and unite together to march for the presidency with full power," he exhorted.

Chen stated that his campaign themes will include national security, and economic, financial, and public policies, together with a new "middle-of-the-road" line. He later told the media said that he has not yet decided his running mate.

The Kuomintang camp is split between Vice President Lien Chan, who is running behind public opinion polls, and the former provincial governor James Soong, who leads in the polls but may have to leave his party to run.

The Nationalists are scheduled to hold their party congress in late August.