TAIPEI (CNA) — Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) has rejected appeals by both billionaire Terry Gou (郭台銘) and former Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) to serve as their running mate in their bids for the presidency, the mayor said Friday.
In an interview with Pop Radio, Ko said Gou and Wang both intend to run for president in 2020 as independents and asked if he would be willing to join them on their tickets, though Ko did not specify when the requests were made.
Gou, founder of Taiwan-based manufacturing giant Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., finished second in the presidential primary of the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) in July to Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜).
Rather than accepting the result and supporting the winner, however, he has seemed interested in mounting a bid of his own.
Wang, a KMT veteran, who pulled out of the party’s presidential primary in June while trailing well behind the front-runners in the polls, has also hinted at a presidential run since then, saying he would take part in an “unconventional” primary process by reaching out to grassroots supporters.
In the interview, Ko said Gou suggested that the Taipei mayor serve as his deputy and take the position of premier (the person who heads the executive branch of government) if elected, and Wang also asked him to be his running mate.
Speaking with talk show host Huang Wei-han (黃暐瀚), Ko said Gou was like a lion or a tiger, who tended to speak out when he wanted something, leading Ko to feel he and Gou were more compatible and could work together.
As for Wang, Ko said the former legislative speaker was like a fox, making it hard for the two to team up.
Ko voiced his support for Gou running in the 2020 presidential election, and said that if Gou mounts a bid, he will be happy to continue to serve as Taipei mayor.
But if Gou decides against the idea, Ko said he will consider his own bid and seek direction from the Hsinchu City God temple on whether he should run.
Ko has already set the stage to be active in politics at the national level by forming the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) and being elected as its founding chairman.
The Taipei mayor said the TPP’s goal was to win seats in the Legislative Yuan in elections that will be held with the presidential vote on Jan. 11, 2020 rather than give him a base of support in a presidential race.
Running as TPP chairman would be more difficult than as an independent, he said, arguing that as an independent he could transcend party boundaries but as a party chairman he would be squeezed by party lines.
The KMT, on the other hand, is anxious to develop an understanding between Gou and Han, hoping the business tycoon will not compete with Han as an independent, which would likely split the KMT and sink Han’s hopes.
Amanda Liu (劉宥彤), one of Gou’s aides, said Gou met with KMT Vice Chairman Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) and is arranging a meeting with KMT Chairman Wu Den-yih (吳敦義).
But Liu said she was not with Gou when he met with Hau and was not clear on what the two talked about.
In response to Ko’s interview with Pop Radio, Liu said she had no idea whether Ko and Gou discussed working together.
So far, Liu said, Gou has not prepared himself for a run at the presidency and any talk on forming a ticket is just speculation.
By Liang Pei-chi, Yu Hsiang and Frances Huang