Talk of the Day -- Taichung mayor ready to throw hat into ring
Central News Agency
2014-01-16 08:43 PM
Taichung Mayor Jason Hu said Wednesday that he is seriously considering running for another mayoral term in year-end elections. It marked the first time Hu had publicly expressed an interest in re-election to the post he has held for nearly 13 years. Local newspapers said Hu made up his mind only after meeting with President Ma Ying-jeou Tuesday and obtaining Ma's approval for the bid. The following are excerpts from local media coverage of the significance of Hu's decision: United Daily News: The 66-year-old Hu is fully aware that he is not Ma's favorite choice for the battleground election in Taichung. He has said many times in private that central government authorities do not like him because he tends to speak the truth. "I'm like a crow who often alerts the central government that something ominous is coming," he once said tongue-in-cheek. Sources familiar with ruling Kuomintang (KMT) affairs said Ma has no choice but to respect Hu's decision because Hu has bested all other KMT hopefuls in internal party polls. Hu, who underwent heart surgery early last year, had previously said that he might not seek re-election after his current terms expires. His remark was made in sincerity as he wanted to spend more time with his family after decades of public service, according to close friends. KMT sources said Hu changed his mind mainly because he wants to see his major policy goals continue in the city.

Another reason lies in the fact that his preferred successor, KMT Legislator Lu Shiow-yen, has shown no intention to join the mayoral race. His former deputy Hsiao Chia-chi, meanwhile, was promoted to the post of deputy interior minister and has received low approval ratings in a series of KMT opinion polls. As Hu would not like to see someone he does not trust take over the helm, he decided to run for mayorship once again, according to the sources. A veteran politician, Hu understands that he will face a tough battle.

Any flaw and imperfection from his 13-year mayorship will be strictly scrutinized. Worse yet, he will face a backlash from residents in districts that have been marginalized in the process of merging Taichung City and Taichung County into a larger municipality four years ago. Factional rifts inside the KMT ranks and poor approval ratings for President Ma's administration could also hinder Hu's chances of electoral success. If Hu does manage to win, he will become one of the country's longest-serving mayors at the completion of his term, having sit at the head of Taichung for 17 years. More importantly for his party, a win would help maintain the KMT's edge over the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election. But if Hu fails, his successful political career could come to an embarrassing end and he would have to take the blame for the KMT's loss of control in the central metropolis, seen as a traditional stronghold for the party. DPP Legislator Lin Chia-lung, who will challenge Hu in the year-end election, said that Hu's biggest challenger in the race is his own record.

"Hu needs to convince Taichung citizens to vote again for someone who has been in the mayoral post for 13 years," Lin said. KMT officials said they are cautiously optimistic about Hu's chances of victory, citing outstanding achievements in putting Taichung on the global map, producing a booming economy and overseeing glittering landmark construction projects. Even though Hu lags behind Lin in a number of media polls, they said, the situation could change after Hu formally announces his re-election bid. (Jan. 16, 2014).

Liberty Times: The DPP has finalized its candidates for three central Taiwan local chiefs -- Lin Chia-lung for Taichung City, Legislator Wei Ming-ku for Changhua County and former Legislator Lee Ming-chung for Nantou County. Of those three districts, the KMT has so far only decided on nominating Legislator Lin Ming-chen for Nantou County magistrate. Some KMT grassroots officials said they hope the party will pick its candidates for Taichung and Changhua as early as possible to better ensure continued control of all three central districts. (Jan. 16, 2014).

(By Sofia Wu)

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