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First Taipei opposition debate on Dragon Boat Festival
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-05-28 02:50 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The first of three debates between the opposition contenders for the Taipei City mayoral election will take place on the Dragon Boat Festival next week, organizers announced Wednesday.

Opinion polls on June 12 will decide whether independent physician Ko Wen-je or Democratic Progressive Party legislator Yao Wen-chih will represent the opposition camp in the November 29 mayoral election.

The first-ever debate between the two was scheduled for Monday June 2, a public holiday because of the Dragon Boat Festival. Next TV was planning to air the event live from 2 until 3 p.m., reports said.

The second televised encounter between Ko and Yao would take the form of interviews on the same talk show, though a precise date was yet to be determined. Formosa Television would organize the final event on June 7 in the form of a debate with questions from the public and with the candidates also questioning each other.

Yao, a former Cabinet spokesman seen as close to ex-Premier Frank Hsieh, surprised friend and foe alike by winning opinion polls designed to decide who would represent the DPP to compete against Ko.

The lawmaker defeated both prominent attorney Wellington Koo, who had frequently been labeled as the frontrunner, and legislator Hsu Tain-tsair. The polls showed that when pitted against ruling Kuomintang candidate Sean Lien, Yao held the best chances, even though he still lagged behind the son of former Vice President Lien Chan.

However, Ko has generally done much better, even surpassing Lien in several opinion surveys. The outspoken physician acknowledged he was not a good public speaker, which might play against him when he meets a lawmaker and former government spokesman, he said, referring to Yao’s background. Instead, he would focus more on content and ideas, Ko told reporters.

Both Ko and Yao have depicted Lien as the son of privilege because of his membership of one of Taiwan’s wealthiest families and his home at one of the capital’s most prestigious addresses.

Ko rebutted questions about Lien’s current political trip to Japan with the remark that he did not have the money to conduct overseas tours.

The independent’s refusal to join the DPP in order to counter Lien met with some criticism inside the opposition party. Former Vice President Annette Lu refused to take part in the polls with Yao, Koo and Hsu in a sign of protest against the candidate selection procedure, while Ko claimed that if he became a DPP member, his appeal to centrist and independent voters would fall significantly.

Taipei City is traditionally a KMT stronghold, but low popularity ratings for both President Ma Ying-jeou and the party he chairs have led observers to believe the DPP can expand its control over local and regional governments beyond its own core areas in the south of the country.

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