Ko shares thoughts on possible election challengers

By Stephanie Chao, The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je offered a few tentative comments regarding his possible opponents in next year’s mayoral race during a radio interview on Thursday. Ko said he considered sitting Tainan Mayor William Lai a “reserved and serious” person who should consider running in 2020 instead. Lai has been floated by pundits and the media as a possible Taipei mayoral candidate. “It sounds like he won’t run, but don’t try to goad me into saying that,” Ko said. “(Lai) might be considering running in the 2020 elections instead.” The interviewer also brought up another possible candidate from the Kuomintang (KMT), citing the party’s hopes of holding on to New Taipei City and take back Taipei, a traditionally pan-blue stronghold. “They might push Taiwan Mobile Foundation Chairman Simon Chang to run,” the interviewer prompted. In typical Ko fashion, he replied, “The KMT also said it wanted to retake the mainland. That isn’t effective.”

He said he didn’t know whether Chang would come out to run, and reflected on his own political experience, saying that campaigning required persistence and a sense of mission. “Running a campaign is a tiring thing,” he said. “It’s like having all of your skin ripped off.” Regarding his own fate, Ko said: “I will definitely run for re-election. “The best way to become re-elected is to do a good job every day. It’s like riding a bicycle, riding toward the direction in front of you.”

Ko was less reticent to talk about former Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou’s excessive borrowing throughout his eight-year term. While former Mayor Hau Lung-bin paid off NT$20 billion of this, much of the debt left by Ma was still there for him to shoulder, Ko said. Ma, during his term as mayor, had been ordered by court to pay off the debt, Ko said, and bemoaned the fact that much of the city’s health insurance debt owed to the Bureau of National Health Insurance largely fell at the feet of his administration. “Don’t say you’re law-abiding,” he said, offering angry words to Ma, who ran on a “Mr. Clean” campaign for his presidential election.