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Taipei mayor meets Tainan counterpart
DPP still discussing selection of Taipei mayoral candidate
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2013-12-07 05:21 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Taipei City Mayor Hau Lung-bin met Tainan City Mayor William Lai at a travel fair in the latter city Saturday, sparking media speculation about future elections.

Hau will reach the end of his second and final term as the capital’s Kuomintang mayor on December 25, 2014, while earlier that month Lai will be running for re-election as the candidate for the opposition Democratic Progressive Party.

Media commentators interpreted Hau’s two-day visit to Tainan as a bid to gain more support from DPP sympathizers for an eventual presidential candidacy in 2016.

The Taipei mayor officially traveled south to promote his city at an international travel fair.

Lai reportedly described the meeting as an “icebreaker” while Hau said the two could be competitors on the political scene but also cooperate in their work as city leaders.

The Taipei City Government said the visit was nothing more than a touristic promotional activity, similar to a previous trip by Lai to Taipei to promote the Yanshui fireworks festival.

Hau, originally a leader of the small pro-unification New Party, served as Environmental Protection Administration minister under President Chen Shui-bian. Last year, he attracted attention as one of few KMT officials expressing approval for medical parole for the former president, who is staying at a Taichung prison hospital while serving a 20-year jail sentence on corruption charges.

The move was seen as a little-disguised attempt at currying favor with traditional DPP supporters for an eventual presidential bid.

Other potential KMT contenders for the 2016 nomination could include New Taipei City Mayor Eric Liluan Chu and Vice President Wu Den-yih. On the DPP side, current party chairman Su Tseng-chang and his predecessor Tsai Ing-wen were the most likely contenders, while Lai has been mentioned as a potential running mate.

Hau’s succession is also less than clear, with the KMT waiting for a decision by Sean Lien, the son of former Vice President Lien Chan. The younger Lien leads the opinion polls against KMT rivals from the Legislative Yuan and the Taipei City Council, but he was not likely to announce his candidacy until next month at the earliest, reports said.

The opposition has three DPP members who declared their hope to be the party’s mayoral candidate, and one independent, prominent doctor Ko Wen-je. Former Vice President Annette Lu, attorney Wellington Koo and lawmaker Hsu Tain-tsair have reportedly argued that the party should use its regular method to select a candidate, namely an opinion poll, but without including outsiders like Ko.

Former Premier Frank Hsieh suggested Friday that the poll could first result in narrowing down the number of DPP candidates to one, and then a new poll could be held to compare support between Ko and the lone DPP member left over.

The trauma expert hinted Saturday there was no better way to pick a candidate than an opinion poll.

Lu said people should not try to change party rules with their own methods because that would harm democratic procedures. If non-members could run in a DPP primary, shouldn’t the practice then be expanded to the whole country, she asked. Lu also told reporters she was interested in working as a mayor, while others only cared about running in elections.

Earlier, Ko complained that it was difficult to join the DPP because he couldn’t find anybody to talk to. He had tried to meet Tuan Yi-kang, the head of the party’s election management taskforce, but the lawmaker had turned him down several times, he said.

Tuan said that as the election committee’s chief, he could not have private meetings with contenders since it might be seen as affecting his impartiality. Ko was not the only candidate he had refused to meet, Tuan told reporters.

The two men did encounter each other at a public forum Saturday, but they only shook hands and exchanged pleasantries, reports said.

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