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Lien under fire for gaffe
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-07-16 03:16 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Taipei City Mayor Hau Lung-bin defended Kuomintang candidate Sean Lien Wednesday after the latter was criticized for making apparent derogatory remarks about two city districts.

At a meeting with real estate brokers Tuesday, Lien reportedly said that in the evenings, the Nangang and Neihu districts were completely dark because they did not even have convenience stores or traditional markets.

The comment was meant to underline the candidate’s dedication to promoting urban development, but instead it drew fire from critics. Opponents said the statement emphasized Lien’s image as being a member of a privileged elite remote from public concerns. His status as a member of a wealthy political dynasty with wide business connections and his address at one of Taipei’s most expensive apartment buildings have already become frequent topics of discussion in the campaign for the November 29 mayoral election.

Over the past ten years, many people moved to live in Nangang and Neihu, but it was only after they moved in that they found out that those areas lacked many amenities, Lien told the real estate specialists.

His campaign officials said he had never meant to say that there were no markets or convenience stores anywhere in those districts, but that he had been reflecting concerns he had heard from residents during meetings with them. The absence of traditional markets was true for some of the newly developed parts of Neihu, a campaign spokesman said.

Hau agreed with the interpretation, telling reporters Wednesday that Lien had been describing the situation in some neighborhoods in the two districts. Whoever was elected mayor in November would have to pay attention to the development of those areas, the incumbent said.

Local media printed pictures of the Huguang market in Neihu and of a market near the Academia Sinica in Nangang to prove Lien wrong.

His opponent in the mayoral election, Ko Wen-je, rejected Lien’s claims by visiting the districts in question Wednesday morning. He toured apartment buildings and visited a food bank, reports said.

Critics have also accused New Taipei City Mayor Eric Liluan Chu, recently promoted to become one of the KMT’s vice chairmen, of staying aloof from the Lien campaign after failing to appear with him and with President Ma Ying-jeou at an event last weekend.

Chu, who is running for re-election, said Lien was still out campaigning among the grassroots, and when the time was right, there would be opportunities for the two to cooperate. The citizens of New Taipei City would be unable to accept their mayor spending half the year campaigning for re-election, Chu said. The mayor denied media reports that the original plan to form a front with Lien had been abandoned. To give the front a name, media had taken two characters from the politicians’ Chinese first names to form a word which could be pronounced as the Chinese term for “victory.”

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