KMT election boosts possible mayoral run
CNATAIPEI--The ruling Kuomintang's (KMT) Central Committee election Saturday once again invited the question of whether one of the winners will run for Taipei mayor next year, even though he remains reticent about his plans.
August 19, 2013, 12:02 am TWN
Sean Lien, son of former Vice President Lien Chan and seen as a popular choice to be the next mayor of the capital, won the third-highest number of votes in the election to choose 210 members of the KMT's 19th Central Committee. He placed 11th in the last election in 2009.
When he showed up at party headquarters to cast his vote Saturday, supporters asked to have their pictures taken with him and cheered him on with “Go, Mayor!” He continued to keep his cards close to his chest, however.
If the 43-year-old decides to run, he will probably face two KMT lawmakers who have indicated an interest in the job. His real challenge for party nomination, however, will likely come from Premier Jiang Yi-huah, who is viewed as a dark horse for the race.
In the other camp, Ko Wen-je has begun to build a campaign, although he too has not announced his candidacy.
Because of his media exposure, Ko, a surgeon who is often critical of the KMT government, appears to have an upper hand compared with other opposition figures, even though he is not a member of the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
The mayoral races in Taipei and the four other municipalities are part of the so-called seven-in-one elections to be held in December 2014. They are seen as a skirmish between the ruling and opposition parties before the main battle — the presidential election to be held 13 months later.
In addition to the mayors, elections will also be held to choose council members, county magistrates, county council members, township mayors and other local public officials.
Nearly 69 percent of Taiwan's population of 23.35 million lives in the five municipalities and Taoyuan County, which will be upgraded to a municipality in late 2014.
Of the current five major cities, the mayors of Taipei, New Taipei and Taichung are KMT members, while Tainan and Kaohsiung, both in the south, are governed by DPP members.
In Taipei, Mayor Hau Lung-bin is term-limited and will step down late next year after eight years in office.
In New Taipei, whether Eric Chu, seen as having the right stuff for president, will seek re-election has been the subject of much speculation. Another possible KMT candidate is Interior Minister Lee Hong-yuan, according to unconfirmed reports.
The KMT nominee could run against Yu Shyi-kun, a former premier and former DPP chairman, or Lo Chih-cheng, a political scholar-turned- politician.
In central Taiwan, Mayor Jason Hu of Taichung is expected to announce whether he will seek another four-year term late this year.
Several legislators are taking steps to drum up local support for their possible candidacies, while former Taichung County Magistrate Liao Liou-yi, Deputy Taichung Mayor Hsu Chung-hsiung and Vice Interior Minister Hsiao Chia-chi, a former deputy mayor of Taichung, could also throw their hats in the ring.
Su Jia-chyuan, who lost to Hu by a small margin in 2010, could run again. Alternatively, the DPP could nominate Legislator Lin Chia-lung as its candidate. Both are said to be actively seeking support around Taichung.
The KMT hopes to expand its territory to the south, with Yang Chiu-hsing, former magistrate of Kaohsiung County before it was merged with neighboring Kaohsiung City, having a good chance of being nominated for a re-match with Chen Chu, the incumbent who beat him in 2010 when Yang withdrew his DPP membership and ran against Chen as an independent.