Hsieh puts weight behind Lee’s bid

The China Post staff

Kaohsiung Mayor Frank Hsieh, expected to run for a second term, yesterday urged the ruling party to throw full support to its Taipei mayoral candidate Lee Ying-yuan, saying the Cabinet secretary-general’s election bid deserves more help.

“I would like to call on the party to make supporting Lee its first priority (for the year-end mayoral elections),” said Hsieh, who also chairs the party until Aug. 1, when President Chen Shui-bian will take over the helm.

He was speaking to reporters after the Democratic Progressive Party’s campaign-strategy task forces for Taipei and Kaohsiung mayoral elections held a joint meeting in Kaohsiung.

Presidential Office adviser Chang Chun-hsiung, a former premier, and DPP Acting Secretary-General Hsu Jen-tu co-presided over the task force’s meeting

Others including Hsieh, as well as Lee and DPP lawmaker, Lo Wen-chia, also attended the meeting. Taiwan is scheduled to elect mayors of the two municipalities in December this year, the first such election since the Democratic Progressive Party came to power in May 2000. The task force and DPP survey center both delivered reports at the meeting and discussed the DPP’s campaign strategy in the elections. The participants decided that mayoral candidates and city councilmen nominees will work hand in hand in visiting the various constituencies to drum up support.

The DPP is expected, on Tuesday, to formally announce its backing of Lee to run for Taipei mayor against incumbent Ma Ying-jeou, who has the combined support of the opposition Kuomintang and the People First Party.

Hsieh, seeking re-election in Kaohsiung, said that Lee’s ability and academic background are both superior to his own, but that Lee is handicapped by starting too late. He expressed the hope that the party and the administration will give priority to pooling its resources in support of Lee.

Lee for his part vowed to wage a clean, gentlemanly election. He also thanked Hsieh for his support and recommended him as the top pick to retain his Kaohsiung mayoralty. The Cabinet official, who holds a masters degree from Harvard University, said he plans to set up his campaign headquarters in September.

He will hire respected scholars or others out of the political circle as an honorable chairman of the campaign center, said Lee.

The purpose of doing so is to have the professionals help draw up the best ways to prevent floods around the Keelung river area, said Lee. He said therefore neither President Chen nor former president Lee Teng-hui will be the honorable chairman. But the former president has a tacit agreement with the DPP to support Lee, the candidate-to-be said. Lee said he feels strongly about winning the race. Water-related issues will be on top of Lee’s campaign agenda, the United Evening News reported yesterday. Meanwhile, Chang Chun-hsiung commented on reports that the KMT will take disciplinary measures against KMT members who defy the party in legislative votes, saying that such a move would not only violate the free will of the legislators, but would also undermine inter-party harmony, illustrating that conflict between parties still exists.

He vowed to promote harmony between the parties after assuming the office of party secretary-general.