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Ko Wen-je hopes James Soong will be an ace in the hole
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-08-17 06:00 PM
Moving into the last few months of the contest for Taipei City mayor, things are heating up between the Blue and Green camps. With both candidates having a certain appeal among women and young voters, KMT candidate Sean Lien can boast a ‘vote magnet’ in the person of his wife Tsai Yi-shan. Consolidated opposition candidate Ko Wen-je has been looking for an angle to counter some of the advantages that Lien enjoys through family connections and may have found an ace in the hole in the People First Party (PFP). Ko has put out feelers repeatedly to the PFP founder, and the latest reports are saying that relations between Ko and Soong are “going smoothly."

One example of how Ko’s overtures to Soong may be working out can be seen in how he reacted to charges by former KMT Legislator Luo Shu-lei in a roundtable discussion that Ko had been overly harsh on nurses at NTU Hospital where he was director of the Trauma Unit before taking leave to run for mayor.

Ko’s response to Luo’s allegations was a simple, "I would ask Chairman Soong to say something about that." One observer of Taipei’s political scenes says the incident points up that the interaction between the opposition candidate and the PFP chairman have reached a certain level of understanding.

Analysts say that forging ties with Soong may not necessarily bring many votes for Ko. At the same time, however, it adds credence to the Green camp’s claim that Ko is representing an "opposition Grand Alliance" in the race, something that could add to momentum for Greens in the campaign. One source speculates that the Ko camp may be hoping to present more concrete support from Soong sometime around the last month of the contest.

Chien Yu-yen, a spokesperson for Ko, notes that Chairman Soong's views on issues regarding the Taipei City Government could constitute a very important base for formulating policy for the Ko campaign. Ko Wen-je has the greatest regard for Soong and his experience and talents in the political arena, but it is critical that the two men be able to maintain a high level of respect for each other's wishes.

The Ko camp is running carefully with the Soong card, anxious to avoid playing it too early lest it peak and end up being a bubble rather than a wave. The PFP is focusing on the campaigns of its candidates for City Council and other races to ensure that it does not become even more marginal in Taiwan politics, watching trends in the mayor’s race to see where the momentum lies. Hoping to "go with the tide," they are reluctant to commit to either the Ko or the Lien side in any way too early in the campaign.

PFP Deputy Secretary-General Liu Wen-hsiung points out that PFP Chairman James Soong has political opinions that are very clear and very strong, and he will take a long, hard look at both men in the mayor’s race before making a decision on whether to throw his support to either one..

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