2023 presidential election campaign update
Taiwan People's Party (TPP) presidential candidate Ko Wen-je is dismissing calls by the Kuomintang’s (KMT) Hou Yu-ih for the "swift" finalization of plans for an electoral pact between the two parties. Speaking to reporters, Ko described any rush to establish such an alliance as being a form of "forced marriage" and said that issuing an ultimatum and demanding a response within a day "is not the way to go."
The statements come after Hou earlier this week proposed their names appear together on the same ballot as being the best way to beat the DPP in January's election. According to Ko, such comments show that "a major party is seeking to suppressing a smaller one" - something the TPP presidential candidate stressed "leaves him with no room for choice."
Talks between the KMT and the TPP are currently deadlocked due to disagreements as to how they can choose a candidate to head a possible presidential ticket.
In other campaign news, KMT presidential candidate Hou Yu-ih is proposing new measures for new immigrants to Taiwan.
The policies are mainly directed at spouses of Taiwanese nationals and include strengthening benefits for immigrant spouses under the national health insurance program. Hou said the government should treat spouses who are living in Taiwan because of their marriages "equally and without discrimination."
One of his main proposals seeks to expand national health insurance coverage to pregnant immigrants, who are currently not covered by the system until they held alien resident certificates for at least six months. Another proposal focuses on cutting the period that Chinese spouses need to wait to gain citizenship from the current six years to four years.
Hou further proposed to establish a government committee devoted to help new immigrants, while at the same time crafting a new basic law that offers a framework of immigrant-friendly policies.
Meanwhile, DPP presidential nominee Lai Ching-te says if elected in January's election he plans to expand access to a recently launched subsidized mental health counseling scheme to include elementary school students.
Lai said children are "under especially great pressure" so that giving them access to psychological and emotional support should be the government's responsibility.
Lai says he plans to expand the subsidy scheme, which is currently only available for people aged between 15 and 30, to include those aged between 6 and 14.
The DPP candidate says he believes such a move will better allow relevant institutes to identify high-risk groups earlier and refer them to clinics for appropriate treatment.
Lai is also looking to increase the number of community mental health centres from the current 38 to 100 by 2028 and he wants to hold regular meetings with non-government groups to seek policy advice aimed at providing greater protection to disadvantaged people.