Talk show host Jaw Shaw-kong plans to run for president in 2024 to ‘make Taiwan great again’

Lawrence Chung
·4-min read

Popular Taiwanese talk show host Jaw Shaw-kong on Monday said he planned to run for president in 2024 because he wanted to “make Taiwan great again”.

A week after he rejoined the main opposition party after almost 30 years away, Jaw said in a news conference that he aimed to represent the Kuomintang in the next election.

“I plan to seek to join the KMT’s presidential primaries – under [the party’s] regulations, I’m eligible to take part in the race,” said the 70-year-old media personality who was once considered a political star in Taiwan.

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Jaw said he was putting himself forward because he believed the ruling Democratic Progressive Party was doing a “lousy” job of governing the island.

“[President] Tsai Ing-wen is no good either,” he said, adding that her government had failed to take into account opposition voices and had done what it could to silence them.

He also accused the Tsai government of leading the self-ruled island down a risky path, given the rising tensions between Taipei and Beijing.

Relations between Taipei and Beijing have deteriorated since Tsai Ing-wen was elected president. Photo: AP
Relations between Taipei and Beijing have deteriorated since Tsai Ing-wen was elected president. Photo: AP

Cross-strait ties had warmed under the KMT’s Ma Ying-jeou, who was the island’s president for eight years from 2008. But relations soured after Tsai was elected in 2016 and refused to accept the one-China principle. Since then, Beijing – which sees Taiwan as a wayward province to be brought under its control, by force if necessary – has suspended official exchanges with the island, staged war games nearby, and poached seven of its diplomatic allies as it tries to pressure Tsai to change her stance.

Jaw said he would present the public with what he believed was the most appropriate cross-strait policy for Taiwan.

“I want to make Taiwan great again,” he said, apparently referring to the time when relations with Beijing were more amicable under Ma’s policy of engagement with the mainland.

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Jaw did not elaborate on his policy but told local media earlier on Monday that it would be impossible for Taiwan to declare independence, nor would it be possible for the two sides to reunify at present. He said as long as the island did not declare independence, there would be no war across the Taiwan Strait. For now, he said the two sides had to focus on peaceful development and it was for the next generation to see which political system would bring the greatest happiness to the people.

Asked if he also planned to vie for the KMT’s top job this summer, Jaw said he may not be eligible since candidates needed to be members of the party, or reinstated to it, for at least a year.

“But regardless of whether I run for the chairmanship or not, this won’t stop me from running for president in 2024,” Jaw said, adding that he believed he was the best choice from within the KMT to contest the election.

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His plan may not be welcomed by some KMT heavyweights, including chairman Johnny Chiang, former chairman Eric Chu Li-luan and New Taipei mayor Hou You-yi, who are all seen as potential candidates for the 2024 race. Jaw was accused by some in the KMT of disrupting party unity with the announcement, but he said the primaries would be a fair contest. “If I lose, I will support whoever wins. I won’t leave the party,” he said.

Jaw announced his return to the party on Monday last week. He had left the KMT in 1993 to form the New Party, which advocates Taiwan’s reunification with mainland China. He left politics altogether in 1996, two years after losing the Taipei city mayoral election to Chen Shui-bian, who went on to become president. As well as being a television personality, he is also chairman of the Broadcasting Corporation of China.

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