Ko considers ex-New Party lawmaker as top aide
Activists want more impartial vote-counting monitors
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-07-16 04:00 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Speculation mounted Wednesday that opposition Taipei City mayoral candidate Ko Wen-je would pick a former New Party lawmaker as his campaign chief.

Ever since preparing to run in the November 29 election, Ko has emphasized his status as an independent seeking to form a broad-based anti-Kuomintang coalition.

Yao Li-ming once served as a legislator for the fiercely pro-unification New Party, but has since turned into a critic of President Ma Ying-jeou’s KMT government. He teaches management at the Chinese Culture University in the capital and often appears on televised talk shows.

Responding to questions about reports identifying Yao as his future campaign manager, Ko said Wednesday he had been in touch with the academic and asked him to help out with the campaign. However, the candidate was unwilling to reveal in what capacity Yao could serve on his staff. Discussions had not been concluded yet, Ko explained.

The candidate said they were complimentary since Yao worked at a privately run college, had studied law and had a background as the son of people who migrated from China with President Chiang Kai-shek. He himself worked at National Taiwan University, had studied medicine and was the descendant of victims of the 228 Incident, the 1947 uprising against KMT rule which was followed by brutal repression by the Chiang government.

On the other hand, they also had a lot in common, Ko said, since both excelled in logical thinking and had not let themselves be constricted by ideologies.

The opposition candidate visited apartments and a food bank in the Nangang District Wednesday morning in the company of a neighborhood warden who belonged to the KMT.

Two other KMT wardens who invited Ko to speak on a previous occasion were expelled from the ruling party.

The outspoken surgeon and trauma expert resisted for months pressure from the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party to become a member because he wanted to stay free to build a coalition with other anti-KMT forces. In the end, the DPP devised a special formula to throw its support behind him.

Recent polls put Ko between 7 percent and 20 percent ahead of KMT candidate Sean Lien, with independent contender and former DPP lawmaker Shen Fu-hsiung trailing far behind in third place.

In a separate development, supporters of Ko protested outside the Central Election Commission Wednesday morning against the law which barred the independent candidate from sending observers to the counting of the ballots on election day. According to the Election and Recall Act, only parties receiving more than 5 percent of the vote in legislative elections could do so. Even though he has won the support of the DPP, he still counts as an independent.

The activists demanded the introduction of a system where private citizens were allowed to take part in the supervising of the vote counting. They said the DPP had agreed to “lend” their quota of observers to the Ko campaign until legislative changes were approved.

If the amendments went through, a total of 150,000 volunteers would be necessary to monitor the November elections nationwide, the protesters said.

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