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Talk of the Day -- Electoral battle in Taipei taking shape

2014/02/07 17:58:30

It looks more and more like a battle between a doctor and his one-time patient in the race for mayor of Taiwan's capital city.

Although neither major party has nominated a candidate, outspoken surgeon Ko Wen-je could very well represent the opposition in the election for Taipei mayor in late November and face Sean Lien, who would try to retain the Kuomintang's (KMT) hold on the city.

When Lien was shot in the face on the eve of the previous municipal election four years ago, it was Ko who led a team of medical experts at National Taiwan University Hospital to operate on him.

It turned out the bullet went through Lien's face without causing serious damage, and Ko had to debunk rumors at the time that the shooting was staged and the injury faked to create sympathy votes for KMT mayoral candidates.

Ko is not a member of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and appears determined not to run as an official DPP candidate in a city that has gone the KMT's way since 1998, but he could still get the party's backing despite misgivings on the part of some DPP leaders.

On the other side, Lien has yet to get the KMT's nomination. At least two other KMT politicians have declared their intention to run for the post, but the 44-year-old son of former Vice President Lien Chan appears to be well ahead of his potential rivals in terms of electability.

Both running for public office for the first time, Lien and Ko, 54, have consistently led in opinion polls in recent months.

The winner of the election will succeed KMT Mayor Hau Lung-bin, who will complete his second four-year term this year. Mayors in Taiwan cannot serve more than two four-year terms consecutively.

The following are excerpts of local newspapers' reports on the match-up that is beginning to take shape:

Liberty Times:

The DPP is considering how to turn Ko into a candidate the party can stand behind in the mayoral election.

One option is to include the independent in the party's opinion poll-based primary, but the DPP leadership is said to be leaning toward pushing a resolution through the party's Central Executive Committee that would allow Ko to stand as the DPP's recommended candidate.

China Times:

The New Tide faction, the biggest faction within the DPP, has decided to ditch lawyer Wellington Koo for Ko. New Tide leader Cheng Wen-tsan has recently accompanied Ko on visits to politicians from both the ruling and opposition parties.

It appears that the "Grand Opposition Alliance" trumpeted by Ko late last year is gaining traction after winning support from heavyweight DPP politicians such as Tsai Ing-wen and Frank Hsieh.

At a meeting with Ko during the Lunar New Year holiday in the past week, DPP elder Ker Chien-ming made the suggestion to party Chairman Su Tseng-chang to extend the concept of forming a united front among opposition parties to other KMT strongholds in Taiwan such as Hsinchu and Miaoli counties.

United Daily:

Both Ko and Koo have urged the DPP to make a decision on who it will endorse before the process is complicated by the upcoming party chairmanship election in May.

On the other side, Lien was in Washington to attend the annual National Prayer Breakfast. When asked about his plans by reporters, he reiterated that he will make an announcement before the end of this month.

Addressing the question of whether President Ma Ying-jeou does not favor his candidacy, Lien said only that he does not believe the president, busy as he is, has the time to cooperate with TV pundits in their attacks on him.