Taipei City opposition contenders attend dinner
Ex-President Lee Teng-hui calls for solidarity
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-01-07 05:25 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Top contenders for the opposition candidacy in the December Taipei City mayoral election appeared at a fundraiser Tuesday evening, reports said.

The Taiwan National Alliance, which hosted the event, had invited ex-President Lee Teng-hui, Democratic Progressive Party Chairman Su Tseng-chang, his predecessor Tsai Ing-wen as well as four contenders for the capital’s mayoralty, physician Ko Wen-je, former Vice President Annette Lu, lawmaker Hsu Tain-tsair and attorney Wellington Koo.

It was not immediately known if all invitees would attend, but the event would provide a rare opportunity for the politicians to meet as the issue of who should represent the opposition in the election has been gaining exposure.

Ko, the only contender not a member of the DPP, has been reluctant to join the party because he said it would affect his support among independent voters in the capital, traditionally considered a stronghold for the ruling Kuomintang. He told reporters he would decide in March whether or not to apply for DPP membership.

Lu, Hsu and Koo have emphasized the need for the opposition party to follow its own rules and conduct an internal opinion poll to select its candidate. Some DPP leaders however have proposed to either list Ko in the poll without him joining the party, or to first select a DPP candidate and then have him or her compete with Ko in a second poll to determine the winner.

Lee said that 2014 would provide one of the best opportunities for the opposition to win elections. There should not be a whole set of different opinions, but people should stand together and show understanding for each other, the former president said.

Arriving at the event, Koo told reporters that no matter how the opposition selected its candidate, joining the DPP should be a primary objective.

The fundraising dinner was not expected to provide an opportunity for talks to work out a joint solution, but would bring all major players together in public for the first time, reports said.

Ko and Lu have been pictured as strong adversaries, with Ko leading overall opinion polls against the KMT but Lu performing the best inside the DPP.

The trauma expert told reporters Tuesday that he disagreed with the notion that the infighting would harm the opposition’s chances. His frequent disagreements with Lu served to raise their image, he said, emphasizing that their disputes were being fought in a polite way.

Ko said he would continue to seek the support of smaller political groups, including the New Party, the Taiwan Solidarity Union and the People First Party. He rejected the notion that the strongly pro-unification New Party would never accept him, explaining that the mayoral election would not deal with national identity but with issues of local government efficiency. His election campaign headquarters would start operations on Thursday, reports said.

The KMT has not selected its mayoral candidate either, with Central Committee member Sean Lien telling reporters last week that he would announce his decision in February, after the Lunar New Year holiday. His father, former Vice President Lien Chan, said Tuesday that he neither encouraged nor opposed his son’s eventual political ambitions.

At the fundraiser, observers will reportedly also be looking out for the interaction between Su and Tsai, who have been described by Ko as the “two suns” of the DPP because they both are believed to want to run as the party’s presidential candidate in 2016. A recent opinion poll put Tsai level at 42 percent with New Taipei City Mayor Eric Liluan Chu, one of several potential contenders in the KMT.

The Taiwan National Alliance dinner was a fundraiser to mark the tenth anniversary of a huge event in favor of Taiwan and against China’s attempts to annex the country. An estimated 2 million people linked hands across the island as Beijing moved to pass a legal clause against Taiwan Independence.

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