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Running mate says Taiwan will be better under Tsai's leadership

2015/11/16 21:04:45

Taipei, Nov. 16 (CNA) Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁), the running mate of opposition Democratic Progressive Party presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wei (蔡英文), praised Tsai as a politician with wisdom, courage and benevolence on Monday and expressed confidence that Taiwan will be better off under her leadership.

Tsai officially introduced Chen, an epidemiologist and vice president of Academia Sinica, as her running mate on Monday.

Speaking at a news conference, Chen said Taiwan is facing a crucial moment of choice: whether it will head to heaven or hell, brightness or darkness, regression or reforms will depend on the choice of the Taiwanese people two months from now, in January 2016.

Chen said he was torn when Tsai asked him to be her running mate because his favorite kind of work is academic research, and he consulted the opinions of his wife, Archbishop of Taipei John Hung Shan-chuan (洪山川) and former Academia Sinica President Lee Yuan-tseh (李遠哲).

He said his wife and daughter prayed for him and they felt God's calling for him to be "the light of the world and the salt of the earth, just like a little candle that burns to light up Taiwan, or like a pinch of salt that melts itself to make the life of Taiwanese richer."

Hung told him that if a Catholic academic entered politics, he could turn academic research into the practice of religious beliefs, Chen said.

Hung said Pope Francis also encourages Catholics to enter politics to help refresh the political landscape and take care of the underprivileged, he added.

Although Lee hoped he could stay at Academia Sinica, Lee also mentioned several urgent problems Taiwan is facing, including global warming, environmental change, food security, ecological crises and social inequality, Chen said.

Lee said he believed Tsai's policies were the most substantive and feasible and provided the best guarantee for Taiwan's future, according to Chen.

He said when he was drafting biotechnology and medical policies for Tsai, Tsai always took part in the discussions despite her busy schedule.

Chen said he was very impressed by Tsai's original points of view and moved by her hard work.

"With Tsai's understanding of Taiwan and her efforts, I deeply believe that Taiwan's future will be better under her leadership," he said.

He said a vice president should not be "a person of silence" and pledged that if elected, he will make every effort to serve the people as directed by the president.

The unaffiliated Chen has not considered whether to join the DPP.

Chen, 64, is best known for his role in the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in Taiwan in 2003, when he headed the Cabinet-level Department of Health (now called the Ministry of Health and Welfare).

To participate in the election, which Tsai is regarded as a virtual shoo-in to win, Chen tendered his resignation as Academia Sinica vice president and as a distinguished research fellow in its Genomics Research Center.

Chen was head of the Department of Health from May 2003 to January 2005 and then led the National Science Council (the predecessor of the Ministry of Science and Technology) from 2006 to 2008.

Chen's father, Chen Hsin-an (陳新安), is a former Kaohsiung magistrate.

(By Sophia Yeh, Tai Ya-chen and Y.F. Low)