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Lien accuses Ko of waging “class war”
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-07-04 05:28 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Kuomintang Taipei City mayoral candidate Sean Lien accused opposition challenger Ko Wen-je of waging a “class war” against him Friday.

Because of his wealthy family background, Lien has been pictured as out of touch with the concerns of common voters in the run-up to the key November 29 election.

He became a target for renewed criticism after his father, former Vice President Lien Chan, called a meeting of senior KMT figures following dismal opinion polls. According to a survey by the Liberty Times published Wednesday, Lien would receive 23.83 percent of the vote and Ko 43.69 percent. Opposition figures accused the candidate of trying to rely too much on his father and his business and political connections.

During his visit to Central America, President Ma Ying-jeou, who also chairs the KMT, acknowledged to reporters that the situation in the election campaign was critical.

Lien said Friday that his frequent visits to grassroots voters and his participation in at least 100 seminars and symposiums were at least partly responses to suggestions from Ma, with whom Lien and his father have sometimes had a strained relationship.

In a TV interview Thursday evening, he said he was not able to pick the family he had been born in, but he could choose what kind of person he wanted to be. He admitted the political environment was not only unfavorable to him, but also to the KMT in general.

Lien said the main tenor of his rival’s campaign was based on class warfare against him.

Ko has been positioning himself as a common man and a political novice fighting the establishment. Though still registered as an independent, the outspoken surgeon has won the official backing of both the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party and the smaller Taiwan Solidarity Union. He is also trying to forge a wider opposition alliance to include the People First Party, traditionally a KMT ally.

Shen Fu-hsiung, a former DPP lawmaker running as an independent, said Lien Chan had joined the campaign for his son too early. It was a sign that the younger Lien’s campaign was struggling, according to Shen.

Incumbent Taipei City Mayor Hau Lung-bin, whose second and final term ends in December, said Ma and Lien had reached an agreement that both the president and the incumbent mayor would fully support the candidate. Over the past few years, Sean Lien has criticized Ma on several occasions, most recently during last September’s power struggle with Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng, which threatened to rip the KMT apart.

Hau said he would raise the frequency of his meetings with Lien and would increase his efforts to make the candidate understand the capital.

On the opposition side, Ko said Friday he would serve as his own campaign manager for the time being to avoid friction between different groups of advisers. His campaign staff consisted of people with widely varying backgrounds, reports said. As he had won the support of the DPP and the TSU, some of his key aides came from those two parties, but there were also independents. In addition, the DPP staff came from different opposition factions, some being close to current party leader Tsai Ing-wen while others were aides to ex-Premier Frank Hsieh or to former chairman Su Tseng-chang, reports said.

In order to avoid conflicts between the different groups, Ko would at least for the time being bear the title of general campaign manager until an acceptable candidate could be found, reports said.

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