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KMT Kaohsiung candidate seeks 'lost prosperity'

KAOHSIUNG--Minister Without Portfolio Yang Chiu-hsing on Friday officially announced Friday that he would represent the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) in the year-end mayoral election for the southern city of Kaohsiung.

Yang, who served as chief of the now-defunct Kaohsiung County from 2001-2010 as a member of the the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), pledged to “build a new Kaohsiung” and bring back what he called “lost prosperity.”

The 57-year-old detailed his political platform in a press conference at the KMT's Kaohsiung chapter headquarters, where he criticized the municipality's long-serving mayor Chen Chu, a senior DPP politician.

He said that Kaohsiung, Taiwan's second largest city behind only New Taipei in terms of population, has regressed in recent years to rank behind Taiwan's four other municipalities, though he did not give specific figures.

Yang outlined the points of his campaign platform as “cleanness and honesty,” “diligence,” and “love for our hometown.” Though he is lagging behind the popular Chen in opinion polls, Yang is convinced it does not mean he will lose at the finish line.

Polls over the past half year have shown Yang lagging Chen by an average of over 30 percent.

Undaunted, Yang, a Kaohsiung native, said days earlier that he “will devote every effort” to beating his rival.

He blasted Chen's government over rising city debts, perceived corruption and what he called a drop in city competitiveness, accusing Chen of spending public funds on promoting her administration as the city's debts mounted.

“Many young people have to (find) work outside the city,” he said, adding that it pained him to see Kaohsiung youth traveling to other places for work.

Yang went up against Chen once before in 2010, when he withdraw from the DPP to run against the incumbent in the first election following the merger of Kaohsiung City and County. He ended up losing to Chen, who gained nearly 53 percent of votes against two rival candidates.

Yang joined the KMT in July last year.

Analysts have said it's not impossible for Yang to “win at the finish line,” but the KMT must first seek unification among different factions of the party in the city.

Yang's ability to attracting investment, which won him the title of “five-star magistrate” at the helm of Kaohsiung County, could be his key to win the year-end election, they said.

While Chen Chu has focused on gentrification to make the city look better and improve traffic, her weakness could be in economic policy, investments and industrial developments.

The main problems facing the city today are declining tax incomes and a population outflow, they said.

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