Opposition recruits attorneys to counter Lien
Polls show slight lead or neck-and-neck race
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-02-25 03:09 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Opposition Taipei City mayoral contenders Wellington Koo and Neil Peng announced Tuesday they were recruiting attorneys to take eventual action against Kuomintang hopeful Sean Lien.

The elder son of former Vice President Lien Chan announced at a high-profile event Monday that he had finally decided to join the race for the KMT nomination for the November 29 election. The news conference resulted in slightly improved opinion poll results for the KMT Central Committee member.

Attorney Koo, one of five contenders within the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party, and author Peng, who wants to run as an independent, said Tuesday they needed a team of lawyers to counter potential legal action from Lien’s attorneys, though his camp said it would only start proceedings in the event of groundless accusations.

Peng accused Lien of being a political elitist who seriously endangered the freedom of the media, the most important value in a democratic society. The author based his accusations on statements Lien reportedly made about his campaign team last September that a fleet not only contained an aircraft carrier, but also frigates and destroyers and a nuclear submarine. Just because the attorneys had not taken action, did not mean they were not ready yet, Lien reportedly said.

Peng said Tuesday he was inviting Koo and about 30 attorneys to form a “submarine pro-deo attorney team” to counter “the aircraft carrier.” The group would move to action as soon as Lien’s attorneys sued other candidates for mentioning reports against the candidate or his family, Peng said.

Both he and Koo denied their joint project would damage their candidacies or their rivalries for the mayoralty. Both men emphasized that the setting up of the legal team was a joint effort designed to protect the freedom of speech, a “human rights alliance” as it were.

A spokeswoman for Lien’s office said the candidate was willing to receive criticism, and would only take legal action against totally unfounded accusations which could be described as character assassination.

Peng and Koo, who held their joint news conference at the Taipei Circle, the same site Lien had used for his announcement one day earlier, criticized the KMT contender’s promise to give away his mayoral salary to charities in the event of a victory in November.

Handing out a mayoral wage would not help to improve social mobility or to close the gap between rich and poor, Koo said.

In the wake of Lien’s announcement, several opinion polls showed him either pulling slightly ahead of maintaining a level position with Ko Wen-je, the National Taiwan University Hospital trauma expert who is the favorite on the opposition side. Ko has so far refused to join the DPP, causing uncertainty on how the opposition should move ahead in selecting a single candidate.

According to a poll published by the Chinese-language Apple Daily, if an election were held now with Lien and Ko as the only candidates, the KMT contender would receive 41.41 percent while the independent could count on 41.17 percent.

The Want Want China Times Poll Center also showed the two men deadlocked, with 29 percent for both of them if Ko joined the DPP. If the doctor remained an independent, he would lead Lien by 32 percent to 29 percent, the survey showed.

Cable station TVBS found 41 percent favoring Lien while 37 percent said they would vote for Ko.

The Chinese-language United Daily News showed the largest distance between the two candidates, with Lien receiving 45 percent against 39 percent for Ko if the latter is backed by the DPP.

Lien will likely first have to participate in a KMT primary against several experienced fellow party members, including lawmakers Ting Shou-chung and Alex Tsai.

On the DPP side, five contenders including Koo and former Vice President Annette Lu are expected to compete in a primary based on polls, though no final solution has been designed yet on how to deal with Ko. He has been reluctant to join the DPP because he says it could damage his chances of forming a broad alliance against the KMT.

Prominent opposition figures have called on the DPP to back Ko in the interest of victory, but inside contenders such as Lu and Koo have voiced strong opposition.

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