Taiwan's presidential candidates officially enter race
( dpa )- Taiwan's two presidential hopefuls officially entered their candidacies with the election authorities for the March 22 poll.
Riding on a landslide victory in the parliament elections earlier this month, Ma Ying- jeou of the main opposition Nationalist Party or Kuomintang (KMT) vowed to end eight years rule by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
"I only have one hope, that is, to give people a better life. For this, we need a new parliament and a new government. Only when the parliament and the government fully cooperate will there be real reform, real administrative operations and a new Taiwan," Ma said.
The popular Ma has maintained a comfortable lead over his DPP opponent Frank Hsieh in various opinion polls.
The January 12 elections saw the KMT winning an absolute majority of parliament, taking 81 of the 113 seats in the lawmaking body to be formed on February 1. The DPP suffered its worst election setback, taking just 27 of the 113 seats.
Unpopular policies and corruption scandals plaguing incumbent President Chen Shui-bian , his family and chief aides had been seen as the main reasons for the DPP's drubbing in the polls.
To ensure stability of Taiwan, Ma said he would not do anything to provoke China, a major military threat for the island. "I will faithfully carry out a 'three-no' policy, that is no declaration of independence, no declaration of unification and no military aggression, if elected," he pledged.
Beijing, a fierce rival of Taiwan since the two sides split at the end of a civil war in 1949, has threatened to attack the island if it declares formal independence. Beijing has considered the island an integral part of China that must be brought back to its fold, if necessary by force.
The KMT has been seen as a conciliatory party with China, with an eye toward eventual cross-strait union under democracy. That platform has triggered fears from pro-independence supporters that the KMT would hand Taiwan over to China if Ma is elected president.
Hsieh Sunday also registered his candidacy with the Central Election Commission and also vowed to pursue his own "three-no" policy if elected president.
"If I became president, there would be no stock tradings , no assumption of board director posts at any foundations and no business deals with any state enterprises or agencies by me and my family," he vowed.
He was apparently referring to business deals involving President Chen's family, which had been cited by political observers as a main reason of public resentment toward the DPP government.
Hsieh pledged he would do all he can to improve cross-strait ties and sharply increase economic exchanges with China.
A Friday survey by the Taipei daily China Times showed that though support for Hsieh has risen to 23 per cent from 20 per cent recorded shortly after the January 12 elections, he still trailed far behind Ma's support rate of 46 per cent.
Another survey by the United Daily News on Saturday showed Ma leading Hsieh by 54 per cent to 23 per cent of preferences.