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DPP sets February 19 deadline for Ko Wen-je
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-02-14 03:37 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – After Democratic Progressive Party Chairman Su Tseng-chang met five members hoping to run for mayor of Taipei City Friday, the party asked independent contender Ko Wen-je to make up his mind before February 19.

Despite polls showing high unpopularity for the ruling Kuomintang, in the capital, the opposition has been plagued by the problem of how to deal with Ko, the trauma specialist who has been leading several opinion surveys.

The party said Friday it wanted Ko to declare his intentions by the next meeting scheduled for February 19, or he would not be included in eventual opinion polls to choose the opposition candidate. After the next meet, the party’s Central Standing Committee would take a close look at the list of candidates, reports said.

Friday’s closed-door talks took place at the DPP’s headquarters. Guests included former Vice President Annette Lu, attorney Wellington Koo, lawmakers Hsu Tain-tsair and Yao Wen-chih, and Taipei City Council Vice Speaker Chou Po-ya.

Some candidates have been vehemently opposed to Ko’s participation in the selection process, while others have proposed opinion polls choosing the final candidate should include him at one stage or another. In other cities and counties, the DPP has held opinion polls to select candidates for the November 29 elections. The outspoken doctor himself said he would decide in March at the latest whether or not he would join the DPP. He described eventual membership as a problem in his effort to create a more widely based anti-KMT alliance in the capital.

Speaking to reporters before the meeting started, Hsu emphasized the need for a public debate between the candidates. Without a debate, there would be no opinion polls, and without polls, there would be no valid democratic process, Hsu reportedly said.

The former Tainan City mayor said the main opposition party should first put its own house in order before tackling outside issues. From now on, the DPP should establish a platform to allow candidates to compete in an open and fair manner and to let the public know about the choices, Hsu said. Party members had the right to understand the candidates without being influenced by outside distractions, the contender added.

Koo emphasized a three-part process which would involve an evaluation of the candidates’ political abilities and potential. Once a final choice had been made, there should be no room for regret, the prominent attorney told reporters.

Lu, who left the meeting early because of other business, said opinions did not diverge widely and were centered on respect for the existing selection system.

Addressing reporters on an outing to New Taipei City, Ko said he was optimistic that the DPP would find a solution to the election problem. When the time was ripe, Su would phone him directly, Ko said.

The KMT has not selected a candidate yet either. High-profile lawmakers like Ting Shou-chung and Alex Tsai are in the running, but most observers expect that Central Committee member Sean Lien, the elder son of former Vice President Lien Chan, will declare his candidacy soon. Following a trip to the United States, he attended a dinner of Taipei City KMT politicians earlier in the week.

A recent poll gave Ko 47 percent against 44 percent for Lien.

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