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Taipei mayor speaks up about 2024 presidential candidacy

Ko Wen-je says ruling DPP plotting to gain from split vote between his party and KMT

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New Taipei Mayor Hou Yu-ih (left), Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je attend a forum in Taipei on Dec. 7, 2021. (Taipei City Government photo)

New Taipei Mayor Hou Yu-ih (left), Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je attend a forum in Taipei on Dec. 7, 2021. (Taipei City Government photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) on Wednesday (Dec. 15) revealed his reason for not running in the last presidential race and acknowledged hurdles lie ahead to secure enough support to win the next one in 2024.

The Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) chairman said on a radio show that he had consulted with figures in the country’s national security organs in 2019 and weighed all his advantages before deciding he was ill-prepared to throw his hat into the ring.

“To be a Taiwanese President, you must be able to pull some strings in the Japanese political circle, the U.S. State Department, and Beijing by making a few phone calls,” UDN quoted him as saying.

Having strived to steer a middle course between the independence-leaning ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and main opposition the Kuomintang (KMT), which favors closer China ties, Ko admitted he has a mountain to climb. The ruling party is relying on a 5-3-2 strategy, meaning the DPP is aiming for 50% of public support while the KMT and TPP get 30% and 20%, respectively.

The DPP will let the TPP peel away potential voters from the KMT before labeling the TPP as pro-China, said Ko. Pushing back against this tactic, the outspoken politician said he could not possibly lean toward China since he is from a family victimized in the Feb. 28 incident in 1947, wrote the China Times.

Ko said he will seek to unveil what he claimed are the wrongdoings of the ruling party. “Supporting independence doesn’t mean corruption can be allowed, and fighting China surely doesn’t justify splurging out money,” he added.

Speaking on a possible KMT rival in the presidential election, New Taipei Mayor Hou Yu-ih (侯友宜), Ko joked that Hou will have to survive the local elections next year first. “Hou is bound to run for a second term or risk criticism for abandoning New Taipei residents,” according to Ko.

On the prospect of putting business tycoon and Foxconn founder Terry Gou (郭台銘) on his presidential ticket, as suggested by his longtime confidante in October, Ko remained equivocal. “We’re open to all options. Better to have more friends than foes,” he stated.