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Attorney Wellington Koo announces candidacy for Taipei Mayor
DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang persuaded Koo to run
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2013-09-25 03:56 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Prominent attorney Wellington Koo on Wednesday announced his interest in running in the 2014 Taipei mayoral election on behalf of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party.

The New York University-educated lawyer, 55, first gained prominence for his legal work on behalf of former President Chen Shui-bian. He also worked for Chen’s son-in-law Chao Chien-ming and more recently for the relatives of Army Corporal Hung Chung-chiu.

At a news conference, he announced he was ready for the challenge though he didn’t know whether he would end up as the opposition party’s eventual choice. He said he had accepted encouragement from DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang to join the race for the party’s candidacy.

Su praised him as a legal expert, and said he had asked Koo for advice about a host of issues, including the reform of the military justice system. The attorney had made contributions to charity issues and to the party for years, Su said.

Koo said Su had discussed a run for the mayoralty with him twice. He admitted he was a “freshman” since this was the first time he would run for public office.

Koo’s emergence came as a surprise since until now National Taiwan University chief traumatologist Ko Wen-je and former DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen were mentioned as the most likely candidates for the opposition camp. Koo told reporters Tsai had also discussed the election with him. The lawyer said he had also consulted former Vice President Annette Lu, who was reportedly also mulling a bid, and ex-Premier Yu Shyi-kun.

Ko is not a DPP member but gained prominence by launching a campaign for medical parole for Chen, who is serving a 20-year prison sentence on charges of corruption. The former president served as Taipei mayor from 1994 to 1998 and was the only DPP candidate ever to win the position.

Reacting to the news of Koo’s candidacy, the physician said he was still seriously preparing for a bid, but he would not comment on his potential rival. Su said he had arranged a meeting with Ko, though he didn’t reveal any further details.

On the side of the ruling Kuomintang, lawmakers Alex Tsai and Ting Shou-chung and Taipei City Councilors Yang Shih-chiu and Chin Huei-chu have expressed their intention to run, but the focus has been on Sean Lien, the eldest son of KMT Honorary Chairman and former Vice President Lien Chan.

The younger Lien, 43, whose only official political title for the moment is member of the KMT Central Committee, has been reticent about giving a clear answer to questions about an eventual run.

Recent media reports suggested his family was concerned for his safety after he was shot on stage during a local election rally in New Taipei City in 2010. The gunman said he had mistaken Lien for a local politician, but widespread doubt surrounded his statements.

Lien has been noted for his sometimes critical comments about the party’s chairman, President Ma Ying-jeou. The alleged friction could make it more difficult for the KMT to nominate Lien, reports said.

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