Taipei mayor to attend KMT-organized political forum

02/22/2021 05:45 PM
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Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (right) and Johnny Chiang, chairman of Taiwan
Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (right) and Johnny Chiang, chairman of Taiwan's main opposition KMT. CNA file photo

Taipei, Feb. 22 (CNA) Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), who concurrently serves as the chairman of the Taiwan People's Party (TPP), agreed to attend a forum organized by the Kuomintang (KMT) on Wednesday, leading to speculation that the two opposition parties could join forces for the 2022 local elections.

The forum, the second of the KMT's three-part social dialogue to discuss Taiwan's future, will touch on social issues such as housing, wages and distribution of wealth.

Ko was invited to attend the event and is expected to share the stage with Johnny Chiang (江啟臣), chairman of Taiwan's main opposition KMT.

According to KMT Culture and Communications Committee chairwoman Wang Yu-min (王育敏), New Power Party (NPP) chairwoman Chen Jiau-hua (陳椒華) was also invited but declined to participate.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has 62 seats in Taiwan's 113-seat national Legislature, the KMT has 38, and the TPP has 5 legislator-at-large seats.

Ko's agreement to attend the KMT forum attracted media attention, with many analysts speculating an alliance between the KMT and the TPP could take shape in the run up to the 2022 local elections.

Asked by reporters whether the two parties will join forces in the coming polls, Wang said the forum facilitates exchanges on social issues, but the KMT does not rule of the possibility of cooperating with other parties when it comes to scrutinizing the government.

"As to the local elections, each party has its own plan and pace. There are no talks on party alliance as of now," she said, adding that cooperation between the KMT and other parties, should there be any, will focus on dialogue.

A KMT staff member told CNA that Chiang and Ko met privately last year and both are open to cooperation on specific issues.

Meanwhile, TPP spokesperson Tsai Chun-wei (蔡峻維) also told reporters at another event that Ko's planned attendance at the KMT forum is for cross-party interaction on governance issues, and should not be interpreted narrowly as the two parties forging an alliance.

He noted that the TPP was previously accused of cozying up to the DPP when it invited Legislative Yuan Speaker You Si-kun (游錫堃) and former Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) to speak at a symposium.

Exchanges between parties should not be linked to political implications, or the nation will never move forward, he said.

Taiwanese voters will elect the mayors of special municipalities, townships and cities, county magistrates, village chiefs, and councilors in polls next year that are widely seen as a bellwether for the 2024 presidential and legislative election.

Local level politics in Taiwan is currently dominated by the KMT, while the Legislative Yuan, which is Taiwan's parliament, is controlled by the DPP.

(By Wang Cheng-chung, Kuo Chien-shen and Emerson Lim)

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