Yao starts work as Ko campaign chief
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-07-18 03:21 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Former New Party lawmaker Yao Li-ming took up his job as campaign manager for opposition Taipei City mayoral candidate Ko Wen-je Friday.

The announcement that Yao would serve with the Ko camp came as a surprise to many because of his past opposition against the Democratic Progressive Party, which supports Ko. The New Party is a fiercely pro-unification group, while Yao was also one of the leaders of the “red shirts” who staged mass protests in order to topple President Chen Shui-bian.

As a result, Yao’s appointment stirred up some resentment from Chen supporters. Ko on the other hand has been vocal about proposing medical parole for the former president, who is serving a 20-year prison sentence for corruption at the Taichung prison hospital.

Others approved the choice of Yao as part of Ko’s plan to forge a broad cross-party coalition against Kuomintang candidate Sean Lien.

Yao, now an associate professor at Chinese Culture University and a frequent talk show guest, said he had visited another leader of the red shirts, former DPP chairman Shih Ming-te, because of his wide circle of acquaintances. He denied he had offered Shih a position on the Ko campaign staff.

If Lien’s father, KMT honorary chairman and former Vice President Lien Chan, came out in Ko’s support, he would also go and visit him, Yao told reporters.

He said that inside the KMT there were several personalities who were extremely dissatisfied with the way things were going with the ruling party. Yao said he would visit those individuals one by one to try and persuade them to switch sides and try change.

Ko’s emergence was not a question of one man winning or losing the election, but an opportunity to turn politics around and end 30 to 40 years of polarization between the KMT “blues” and the DPP “greens,” Yao told reporters.

As to his future, Yao said he would stay on as university professor and not serve as deputy mayor if Ko won the November 29 election. The campaign team and the eventual city government team would have different members, he said, hinting that Ko might reveal the name list for a shadow cabinet before the election.

Sean Lien received the news of Yao’s appointment Thursday with the remark that the academic was already serving as a board member with DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen’s Thinking Taiwan Foundation. The KMT candidate said it was therefore no surprise that Yao had spent the past months attacking him on talk shows.

Ko sent out invitations to organize a conference for young citizens on August 10, reports said Friday. The aim of the event was to recruit young and idealist students and academics, and to launch an exchange of ideas which would benefit reform of the political system, reports said.

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