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One week in, independent Taipei mayor draws ire of DPP, KMT

One week in, independent Taipei mayor draws ire of DPP, KMT

Taipei, Jan. 3 (CNA) Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je has been on the job only just over a week, but the political independent has already managed to draw the ire of Taiwan's two major parties. Members of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which backed the former surgeon when he was campaigning, were miffed over remarks by Ko's campaign manager that a citywide tour two days before the vote was intentionally made to clash with an event hosted by the party's chairwoman. Campaign chief Yao Li-ming told a talk show that aired Friday that Ko's "seven-stop" campaign trip on Nov. 27 was designed to keep him away from parts of the city where DPP chair Tsai Ing-wen was scheduled to lead city councilor candidates on a parade. Tsai scrapped the stumping schedule and instead headed to southern Taiwan to campaign for candidates there. The notoriously outspoken Ko has since tried to play down the remarks by saying "it wasn't that serious," but it was not enough to quell unhappy voices from within the DPP. Legislator Kuan Bi-ling called for Yan on Facebook Friday not to interpret Ko's resounding victory over his Kuomintang (KMT) rival as being the result of campaign strategy alone, saying he should not "mistakenly believe" that it means voters are disenchanted with bipartisan politics. "Moreover, I hope that Ko and Yao are grateful to Chairwoman Tsai," she chided. "When showing themselves off, they should avoid hurting their allies in democracy." Tuan Yi-kang, also a DPP legislator, acknowledged that "there is nothing wrong" with "wanting DPP votes without the burden of the DPP," but wrote that it still "hurts" to hear such things after the election, "especially because it gives the impression that Tsai has nowhere to go but to stick to Ko, which has created completely unnecessary controversies." Ko's victory in the Taipei election came after months of opinion polls had tipped him as the winner, but no polls predicted his runaway victory with more than 240,000 over the KMT's Sean Lien. Ko raked in nearly 854,000 votes to earn the support of 57 percent of voters. The win can be attributed in part to the DPP's willingness not to field its own candidate and instead put its support behind the independent. An aide to Ko tried to play down the situation Saturday by calling Yao's remarks about avoiding Tsai "by no means true" and "inappropriate." Hung Chih-kun said that Ko's campaign office had maintained good communications with the DPP, and the new mayor's win was thanks to the efforts of his campaign team and the support of the DPP and the public. He added that in Ko's victory speech, the only party he mentioned by name was the DPP when he said he "was very grateful that the DPP had been generous in not nominating a candidate." While the DPP dust-up focused on Ko's manager, voices within the ruling KMT have also expressed unhappiness with the freewheeling speech that is a staple of Ko's public persona. A former aide to President Ma Ying-jeou said Ko, as the head of the capital city, should refrain from speaking about others in a "mean spirit," a reference to how Ko made the president the butt of a joke after shaking hands with him for the first time. Lo Chih-chinag said Ko's remarks that New Year's Day exchange was a battle between Ma's infamous "handshake of death" and Ko's own "hands that heal" showed that the mayor "needs to learn to hold back." Lo said it is basic courtesy for the mayor not to make personal attacks, especially against a national leader, calling for Ko to focus on his job and make good on his promises of creating a new political atmosphere. Lo said that he does not have high expectations of Ko, but he is eager to see how his turn at the helm of the traditionally KMT-held capital city goes. (By Sophia Yeh, Kelven Huang and Lilian Wu)


Updated : 2021-09-28 09:47 GMT+08:00