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Ko Wen-je registers for mayoral election
Independent receives enthusiastic reception from PFP candidates
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-09-05 03:57 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Independent Ko Wen-je officially registered as the Taipei City mayoral candidate on the final possible day Friday on behalf of an opposition alliance.

The outspoken trauma expert will take on Kuomintang candidate Sean Lien in the November 29 election for one of the country’s highest-profile political offices. Two previous elected mayors, Chen Shui-bian and Ma Ying-jeou, made it to president two years after leaving the city office.

At Friday’s registration ceremony, Ko read out a “Taipei Citizens Charter” promising more openness and inclusion if he was elected mayor. He named his major tasks as putting an end to behind-the-scenes deal making and to the politics of privilege, and providing a platform for citizens to enter politics.

By coincidence, a group of city council candidates from the People First Party showed up to register at about the same time. Incumbent PFP councilor Lin Kuo-cheng addressed Ko as mayor, reports said, while the party’s vice secretary general, Liu Wen-hsiung, described the exchanges as a sign of polite behavior. He said the PFP had maintained an open channel of communication with the Ko campaign but he was unable to say when its chairman, James Soong, might meet with the independent candidate. Soong, once one of Taiwan’s most influential politicians, would not announce whom he would be backing as mayoral candidate until October, Liu said.

Ko has received the endorsement of the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party but not joined the group as he feared it would damage his chances of attracting other political groupings to his camp. He appointed Yao Li-ming, a former New Party lawmaker and once a vehement opponent of Chen’s DPP government, as his top campaign aide.

He came under fire Friday for earlier remarks seeming to indicate praise for late President Chiang Ching-kuo’s handling of links between business and politics. Human rights activists said Ko should apologize for the statements while the DPP should explain its position. Chiang’s rule was marked by scandals and by the KMT’s further expansion of its business interests and assets, the activists said.

A DPP spokesman said the party might not completely agree with Ko’s comments, but it stood on the same side as the activists in valuing the achievements of the democracy movement in the fields of human rights and freedom of speech.

At the official registration, Ko was accompanied by about a dozen women, including his wife and his mother.

Another independent candidate, Neil Peng, also registered for the mayoral race Friday.

Mayors, county magistrates and city and county councilors as well as political officials at lower local levels will be elected all over Taiwan on November 29. The elections will be seen as a major test for President Ma Ying-jeou and his KMT amid low popularity ratings.

The following round of elections will come in early 2016, with a vote for a new president and Legislative Yuan.

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