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DPP hosts debate for Taipei mayoral candidates

TAIPEI--The opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) on Sunday afternoon held its first debate for candidates seeking to represent the party in the race for Taipei mayor later this year.

Four potential DPP nominees — former Vice President Annette Lu, lawyer Wellington Ku and lawmakers Hsu Tain-tsair and Yao Wen-chih — took part in the debate.

The list excluded Taipei Council Deputy Speaker Chou Po-ya, who is also seeking the DPP's nomination for the Taipei mayoral election, because Chou has registered for the Taipei councilor election, DPP spokesman Chang Tun-han said.

It also excluded Ko Wen-je, an independent Taipei mayoral contender who enjoys wide support within the pan-green camp, because Ko is not a DPP member, he said.

DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang said the debate allowed the four participants to present their visions for the city's administration and gave the public a chance to learn about their policies.

Former Premier Frank Hsieh told reporters before attending the debate that the DPP should remain open to cooperating in the future with Ko, given that the DPP's main rival is the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) rather than Ko.

The 54-year-old Ko, an outspoken National Taiwan University Hospital surgeon who expressed his desire to run for Taipei mayor last year, has not yet decided whether he will join the DPP or not.

Local opinion polls taken since late 2013 indicate that Ko is the clear front-runner among non-KMT candidates.

Taipei is considered to be a KMT stronghold, and a battle is being waged inside the DPP over whether to field a candidate in the 2014 race or throw its support behind Ko to challenge the KMT's strength in the city.

Social Housing

The four candidates advocated “social housing” as the best way to combat housing prices in the city that are unaffordable for young workers.

When asked about what they would do to free Taipei from what the questioner described as a “speculation paradise for the rich” and an “economic hell” for young adults, Lu suggested that unused land should be designated for the construction of “youth apartments.”

In addition, Lu proposed to “revitalize” vocational education so that young people can be given the skills needed to make a living while blasting the central government's “12-year basic education” program as “an education landslide.”

Yao, meanwhile, proposed to tear down Songshan Airport to make room for a park and rented social housing units.

Displaying a 3-D model, the lawmaker said that once the airport was dismantled, there would be enough land for a 400-hectare park and the construction of 10,000 social housing units.

Hsu also advocated social housing, and he called for rent limits as exist in the United States.

While proposing to increase rental housing, Koo said he would also provide affordable public day care services for children and set up a micro venture capital fund to help young people living in Taipei to create their own businesses.

Also on Sunday, Deputy Interior Minister Hsiao Chia-chi said the central government does not allocate funds for the construction of affordable housing but does provide subsidies for low-income families to rent a home or low-interest loans for people to buy a home.

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Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidates for the Taipei mayoral nomination, from left, Wellington Ku, former Vice President Annette Lu, Hsu Tain-tsair and Yao Wen-chih take part in a debate in Taipei, yesterday. (CNA)

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