The ‘Ing Clique’: Tsai Ing-wen’s Not-So-Silent ArmyIn a recent book, the DPP presidential candidate shares her visions for building a better Taiwan
It’s no exaggeration to say that Democratic Progressive Party presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) is likely to be elected as the next president of Taiwan in January 2016. Her new book, 《英派：點亮台灣的這一哩路》Ing’s Clique: The Last Mile to Light Up Taiwan, which came out in Chinese-language in October, offers Tsai’s introspections about her loss in the 2012 presidential election, the significant changes that have occurred within society in the past three years, and her visions on how to lead Taiwan.
The book gives an account of her plans and the actions she has taken during those three years. It tells of her trips to local cities and towns, to the U.S., India, Indonesia, Israel and other countries, the stories behind the meetings, as well as how the Thinking Taiwan Foundation (小英教育基金會), the Thinking Taiwan Forum (想想論壇) and the Thinking Taiwan English site — the one you are currently visiting — were created.
“Between the years 2008 and 2012, it is important to ask what were the things that I didn’t do to win the trust of the majority,” she writes. In other words, what are the things that need to be done in order to build Taiwan into a better, stronger country?
To develop a better understanding of Taiwan’s problems and challenges, Tsai followed Wu Nai-ren’s (吳乃仁) suggestion to look at things from a different perspective — that of the people. She embarked on an important journey into the hearts and minds of the Taiwanese by launching her foundation and its forums. In the same period, she also had what she calls stimulating conversations with leaders from around the globe to learn from them. Tsai was taking the necessary steps to become a good leader for the country.
Ing’s clique (英派) — the expression comes from a speech at a rally in Keelung earlier this year — refers to a group of people who strive to make a difference. In all, there are seven “Ing” categories: Thinking Ing, Action Ing, Social Ing, Political Ing, Economic Ing, Diplomatic Ing, and Local Hope. “If the seven Ings can attract a group of people to change the nation, then what I have done in the past three years was worth it,” Tsai observes.
This is much more than a political campaign book. The volume reads like an exciting journey into a young Taiwan as it tries to find its place in the world. It lays out Tsai’s positions on a host of issues, from creating opportunities for young people to promoting an active civil society, the U.S.-Taiwan relationship to socio-economic policies.
However, despite the popularity that she has gained for stating that she would maintain the “status quo” and “maintain cross-strait peace,” Tsai remains rather vague on her strategy for accomplishing these goals. As this it arguably one of the most important and urgent issues of 2016 presidential campaign, more information would have been welcome. The book also brushes off hot issues such as education, environmental issues, and health care.
Tsai recalls an important speech, “Taiwan Meeting the Challenges, Crafting a Model of New Asia Value,” which she delivered on June 3 at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C. Tsai describes how she, legislator Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) and deputy secretary-general Jason Liu Chien-hsin (劉建忻) spent a great amount of time preparing for the speech, going back and forth writing and rewriting the script.
One of the key messages in that speech was highlighting the importance of reinventing Taiwan’s economy into an innovative economy by shifting from an outdated “efficiency-driven model to an innovation-drive one.” “Democracy is the soul of the new Asian values,” she writes. “We hope to reduce Taiwan’s dependence on a single China market and to rebalance and diversify our trading partners … we will become our best solution.”
A spirited and engaging book, Ing’s Clique is a good starting point for those who are interested in building Taiwan into a better country. It sheds light on the struggles, challenges, hopes and dreams at just the right time. Tsai, the DPP, and Taiwan’s spirit fully come alive in its pages.
《英派：點亮台灣的這一哩路》Ing’s Clique: The Last Mile to Light Up Taiwan
270 pp, Eurasian Press, 2015
Yahsin Huang is a technology journalist in Taipei who writes mostly for Make magazine (Taiwan), Event Platform, and TechLife.