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Sean Lien gains support for Taipei city mayoral election

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Lien Sheng-wen (連勝文), son of former Vice President Lien Chan and ex-chairman of EasyCard Corporation, is gaining stronger support for running for Taipei mayor on behalf of the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) after Vice Premier Jiang Yi-huah was nominated as the new premier by President Ma Ying-jeou.

Ma has been widely thought to have strongly backed Jiang's bid for Taipei mayor in the upcoming race next year.

But Ma's assignment of Jiang to the premiership has cleared the way for Lien, also known as Sean Lien.

Local political analysts said yesterday that the party is poised to nominate its candidate for Taipei mayor in May.

Ting Shou-chung and Tsai Cheng-yuan, both KMT lawmakers elected from Taipei districts, have announced their plan to join the mayoral race.

However, it is Lien who is believed to have the strongest support from eligible voters in the capital city if a primary of the KMT is held in March or April in case there is more than one aspiring candidate, said the analysts.

Observers said the only hurdle that needs to be removed is getting Lien's own family to back him to take part in the race.

His father, KMT Honorary Chairman Lien Chan, has never voiced opposition to the younger Lien's possible participation in the mayoral election, said political observers.

But Lien's mother has expressed concern over his safety related to his political career after he was severely injured by a gunman, who was thought to have targeted another KMT politician at a campaign rally held in New Taipei City several years ago.

Lien is currently a member of the KMT's Central Standing Committee and actively engaged in the economic development of Taipei in his role as a key adviser to the municipal government.

Analysts said that Lien is guaranteed to become the new Taipei mayor if he decides to join the race since the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party has never won the mayoral race when the KMT presents one candidate in the Taipei election.

When former President Chen Shui-bian ran for office, he managed to cash in on a KMT split, eventually serving as Taipei mayor for a single term before winning the presidency on further KMT division.

The DPP has since never won the mayoral race in Taipei when its candidates faced KMT counterparts on a one-on-one basis in the municipal elections.

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