by Matthew Strong
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Former Democratic Progressive Party Chairman Shih Ming-te announced Tuesday he was dropping out of the presidential election race because he had no way of collecting the required 300,000 endorsements.
As he has no political party backing him, he had to go out and collect signatures from the public. A request to do so online was rejected by the Central Election Commission.
Even though Shih boasts a long career as one of Taiwan’s best-known former political prisoners and served as DPP leader for some time in the 1990s, he alienated many supporters by launching the so-called “red shirt movement” which tried to topple President Chen Shui-bian in 2005.
In most recent opinion polls for the January 16 presidential election, he barely received more than a few percent. DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen has been the frontrunner, fast outpacing both Kuomintang candidate Hung Hsiu-chu and People First Party Chairman James Soong.
In his statement, Shih said he had succeeded in crossing the hurdles of three death sentences and three cancer outbreaks, but the 300,000 endorsements were impossible to reach.
Martial law had been over for almost 30 years, and the 21st century had started for 15 years, but the people of Taiwan had lost all direction and the country lacked leadership, Shih said. He called on the new president to provide the people with a new “Taiwanese dream.” “Without a dream, individual lives will have no value. Without a dream, the country will have no large aim to fight for,” according to Shih.
According to the law, a presidential hopeful has to present ID copies from at least 1.5 percent of eligible voters at the most recent legislative election within 45 days of the next election being officially proclaimed. In Shih’s case, he would have needed a total of 269,709 endorsements, reports said. Another former DPP politician, Hsu Jung-shu, is still continuing her drive for signatures.
The CEC is scheduled to announce the results of the nomination process on November 17.