TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Amid high-stakes polling that will determine whether Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) chair and presidential candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) will be top of a Kuomintang (KMT) - TPP presidential ticket, or KMT presidential candidate Hou Yu-ih (侯友宜), Ko cried in an online meeting with supporters as he asked for their backing in his hour of need.
On Wednesday (Nov. 15), the KMT and TPP said Ko and Hou had agreed on a six-point deal to determine which of them would run as the presidential candidate on a combined ticket, how to team up on legislative seats, and an outline for a coalition government if victorious. However, one of the terms was that selection would not be based on the results of a new poll, but rather the results of existing opinion polls run from Nov. 7-17 and internal KMT and TPP polls, with many in the TPP camp concerned the polls will favor the KMT.
In a live-streaming video broadcast on his Facebook page on Thursday (Nov. 16), Ko said that along with himself, many of his supporters did not sleep well on Wednesday night. He apologized for causing them to worry and offered an explanation as to, "Why is there suddenly such a turnaround? Why did you suddenly agree to the blue-and-white coalition?"
He said that over the past two weeks, he has been traveling around Taiwan, giving talks, and listening to people's concerns. He discovered that many people feel uneasy about Taiwan's economy, peace in the Taiwan Strait, and the future of Taiwan.
Many have told him that no matter what, there must be a change in political parties in 2024. He mentioned meeting with the Tainan City Council and seven independent council members.
Several council members told him, "We are taking photos with you now. If you don't win, we will all be exposed and criticized afterward." He expressed dismay at how the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has become so suppressive of opposition and questioned how they have become this way.
Ko said he has been asked what will happen if the DPP continues to stay in power. He said that the tense situation in the Taiwan Strait has affected the lives of many people and many wonder hold much longer they can hold on.
Ko and team members cry as he talks about the loyalty of supporters. (Facebook, Ko Wen-je screenshot)
The TPP head said that his Facebook page has been flooded with inquiries from supporters such as, "What about your promise to fight without any hesitation?" However, since he retired from National Taiwan University Hospital on Feb. 1, Ko said that has not taken a single day off.
He has been on the road with a small team, facing various challenges. Whenever his poll numbers rise slightly, he encounters all sorts of attacks.
In a media environment almost entirely under control, he said it is difficult to get positive news coverage. He has relied on his own media to break through.
Recently, with the help of small donations from his supporters, he aimed to run TV commercials, but he alleged that some television stations were ordered to block the ads and remove them. Ko said, "Although we are putting in a lot of effort, it's difficult to win in such an environment by ourselves. If the opposition does not unite and the Democratic Progressive Party continues to govern, what should we do?"
He said, therefore, his team held a second round of negotiations with the KMT, considering the time factor, he agreed to have three experts select a fair public opinion poll from Nov. 7-17 to determine the presidential and vice-presidential candidates. The TPP chair said, "I know everyone is worried that if I lose within the margin of error, I would be giving too much away. Please, everyone, have confidence!"
Ko pointed out that he led in almost all the polls versus Hou in the past few months and told his supporters that the last two days of the polls are crucial. He asked all of his supporters to stay at home and answer their phones.
He then began to shed tears as he struggled to say, "This is the most touching sentence I have ever heard since I entered politics. I have seen this in Taichung before. Once I went to the Taichung Support Association, and the most touching sentence I saw was, 'As long as Uncle Ko doesn't give up, we will not give up.'"
After pausing to cry, Ko said, "Today it is my turn to tell you, 'As long as you don’t give up, I will not give up."