Ex-Premier Lai denies having discussed presidential bid with Taiwan President

Lai rejects reports that Tsai asked him about presidential plans and that he said he had none

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Ex-Premier William Lai (center) denies President Tsai ever asked him if he would be running for the DPP nomination.

Ex-Premier William Lai (center) denies President Tsai ever asked him if he would be running for the DPP nomination. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Speaking during a radio interview Tuesday (May 21), former Premier William Lai (賴清德) denied accusations that he had lied about his presidential ambitions to President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) during a March 8 meeting.

Lai and Tsai have both registered to run for the Democratic Progressive Party nomination for the January 11, 2020 presidential election, but have yet failed to reach an agreement on the format and date for the opinion polls which will determine the nomination.

On Tuesday’s radio show, Lai said the president or somebody at the Presidential Office must have been lying, since Tsai had never asked him about the presidential election on March 8, and he had never replied he would not run for president.

Media had reported he had given her a negative reply, and therefore had a credibility problem.
President Tsai told another radio show that the word “lying” was too grave and should not be used. She also denied she was trying to have the candidate selection system changed.

Tsai has advocated the use of cellphones in the opinion polls for the candidate selection, while Lai defended the existing method of only consulting voters through calls on landlines.

On March 8, a local DPP lawmaker in Tainan had invited the president to visit, and Lai had returned to the city from Taipei to meet her, the ex-premier told the radio station. They had only discussed a planned legislative by-election in the Tainan area, so Tsai had never asked him whether he intended to run for president, and he had never said no to any such question, Lai said Tuesday.

If anybody claimed she has asked him and he had said no, then that was a lie, and somebody had been lying, either the president or her advisers, Lai said.