‘Pan Blues’ face Kaohsiung hurdles

The China Post staff

A “Pan Blues” joint-campaign plan in the year-end Kaohsiung mayoral race has backfired, with Kuomintang supporters in the southern city rejecting the high possibility of being represented by a People First Party candidate. PFP Vice Chairman Chang Chau-hsiung on Monday threw his hat into the ring, vying for the “Pan Blues” nomination in the southern port city with three KMT contenders. Under a KMT-PFP deal, incumbent Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou from the former ruling party has been promised full support from both parties, or the “Pan Blues” camp, as opposed to the Democratic Progressive Party, whose color is green. Chang looks to be the favorite over his three KMT competitors, as KMT Chairman Lien Chan has encouraged his candidacy, and it looks fair for each of the parties to take one of the cities. Lien and his PFP counterpart, James Soong, are expected to negotiate the nomination later this month. But KMT supporters have criticized the party for trying to sacrifice its own candidates, Huang Chun-ying, Yao Kao-chiao, and Huang Chi-chuan. Huang Chun-ying’s supporters, stressing their hopeful was no inferior to Chang, vowed to organize a massive drive to back his candidacy. But Huang asked his backers to remain open-minded to such a joint-campaign deal, allowing the leaders of the two parties to pick the best candidate for the race. “Since I registered for the KMT primary, my determination has been firm,” Huang said. “I’m still very confident at this moment. If I’m nominated, I’ll give it an all-out effort. If somebody else is nominated, I’ll do my best to support him.” Yao also tried to appease his supporters. “I have received many calls rejecting Chang Chau-hsiung,” Yao said. “But I call on everybody to stay clam, and wait for the results of the negotiation between the KMT and PFP leaders.”

Huang Chi-chuan said he was not ready to give up his campaign.

But he blamed the KMT for handling the southern city’s campaign from “a Taipei perspective.”

“The party should listen more to the grassroots supporters in Kaohsiung,” urged Huang.

The “Pan Blues” camp will not finalize their candidate for the Kaohsiung mayoral race until Lien — currently on a U.S. visit — returns to Taiwan to meet with Soong later this month, a PFP official said yesterday. The two party leaders will make a joint announcement for the nomination, said Chang Hsien-yao, director of the PFP’s policy center. The director said the vice chairman’s candidacy is meant to set in motion the cooperation deal between the two parties, setting an example to be followed in the 2004 presidential election.