Ko, Lien marshaling forces for Taipei mayor race
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-06-18 12:31 PM
One of the first questions in the contest for Taipei City mayor between the Green camp’s Ko Wen-je and the Blues’ Sean Lien is whether either will be able to siphon a sizeable amount of votes from the Orange camp of the People First Party. The earliest indication from PFP chairman James Soong is that he will bide his time and wait for Ko to formulate and announce a platform before making a decision on backing one of the two leading candidates in the race.

PFP spokesman Wu Kun-yu said Tuesday that Sean Lien has attracted a great deal of attention during the early stages of the campaign. He noted that Lien has touched on a number of issues large and small related to the municipal government but needs to bone up on what it really at stake in the city’s future. Otherwise, said Wu, he will wind up continuing to utter vapid homilies about political cooperation that offer nothing for voters to chew on.

Lien has called the PFP “a part of his family,” saying that there is little misunderstanding between himself and the party. He claims that in the past he and the PFP have fought on the same side and he is close to many of the PFP candidates in upcoming elections. Lien has expressed hope that he will enjoy the support of the Orange party in the year-end elections

At the same time Ko Wen-je is also working to show respect for Soong and the PFP, so far with little to show for his efforts. Ko has reportedly made a number of attempts to contact Soong privately to set up a meeting but has been rebuffed each time by the Orange camp.

Soong met with several senior members of the party Tuesday afternoon to discuss the various candidates in the Taipei City mayor’s race and whether to offer any endorsements, The party heavyweights reportedly concurred with Soong’s feeling that they should hold off on making any decisions in the race until they can see what both candidates and both camps have to offer for the people of the city if they win..

Soong stressed that if the Green camp comes up with ideas and strategies that are compatible with those of the PFP and will be beneficial to the city, it is not too late for the two parties to talk about support or cooperation. At the same time, he emphasized that if he meets with Ko it should be to discuss substantive issues and not simply as a courtesy call.

Soong said he has yet to see any real indications of what policies and plans the Ko camp have for the city, thus there is no way they can begin to talk about cooperation. He said the people of Taipei expect the PFP to be responsible in offering its support for one candidate or the other in the mayor’s race and not to blindly express support for either.

Party insiders explain that in 2004 Soong agreed to run with Lien Chan as the KMT candidate for vice president on the understanding that Lien would back Soong for president once he had completed his term, or terms, in office. The pair lost, however, and when Soong ran for mayor of Taipei City in 2006, the KMT failed to support his bid. This is why Soong is loath to offer any support to the KMT unless he fully believes it will be for the good of the people and will not adversely affect the prospects of his own PFP.

An opinion poll conducted by a cable news station this week showed support for Ko Wen-je among Taipei City voters at 41.8%, with Sean Lien trailing in second at 24.1%. Most of the remaining one-third of those surveyed either expressed support for Shen Fu-sheng – a former legislator who has said he does not support the ‘consolidated opposition candidate’ ploy and hopes to run as an independent candidate – at 13%, or said they are undecided, at 19.7% of the sample. Many of the undecided respondents are seen as supporters of the original DPP candidate, legislator Pasuya Yao, who lost out to Ko Wen-je in a DPP poll, and might be expected to go either way, for Ko or Lien, in the final tally in November.

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