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KMT likely to pick former immigration chief for Keelung
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-07-22 03:04 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Former National Immigration Agency Director-General Hsieh Li-kung was most likely to run for mayor of Keelung for the Kuomintang, reports said Tuesday.

On July 9, the KMT canceled the nomination of City Council Speaker Huang Ching-tai as its candidate in the November 29 election after he was accused of having accepted bribes from construction companies. The local politician claimed he was innocent and has continued to campaign for the mayoralty.

Ever since its decision, the KMT has struggled to find a candidate to replace Huang. President and KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou invited lawmaker Hsieh Kuo-liang for a meeting about the subject, but the legislator turned down an invitation to run and left the country on a vacation. He reportedly returned to Taiwan on Tuesday morning, but KMT officials were quoted as saying they would not invite him again for the time being.

Former NIA chief Hsieh Li-kung, no relation of the legislator, said in an interview published Tuesday that he was willing to do his best if the party invited him to become its candidate. Hsieh now serves as an advisory member at the National Security Council.

He was quoted as saying that party officials had contacted him but that the procedure still had some distance to run. The former immigration chief described the eventual election campaign as tough and said he would “listen to the voices of the people of Keelung and understand (their) needs.”

Even though he was not born in the harbor city, he spent more than 20 years there, first as a student at National Taiwan Ocean University and later as a member of the Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau’s local office. He said he would have to move his household registration to Keelung by July 29 if he wanted to run in the election, though.

Since the scandal surrounding Huang broke out, opposition Democratic Progressive Party candidate Lin Yu-chang acquired a strong lead in opinion polls.

First reactions from Hsieh’s likely nomination in Keelung were negative, some media reports said. Some citizens felt the former immigration chief was being “parachuted” into the harbor town and had not enough feeling with the local situation.

KMT members of the city council said the gap between the party leadership and public opinion was growing, while now that Huang’s nomination had been canceled, the city councilor who had come second in the primaries should replace him.

Hsieh’s eventual candidacy would make it more difficult for former People First Party legislator Liu Wen-hsiung to announce a run for the mayoralty, local observers said.

Earlier, several other KMT members turned down offers to run, including former presidential Vice Secretary-General Lo Chih-chiang and former government spokesman Philip Yang.

Another former Cabinet spokesman, Su Jun-pin, who now serves as a department chief at the KMT, was named as a potential nominee but Hsieh was favored because he had closer links to Keelung, reports said.

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