Too early to call Taipei mayor to run for president: TPP

TAIPEI (The China Post) — An official from the opposition Taiwan People’s Party (TPP, 民眾黨) reiterated earlier this week that it was too early to discuss whether Taipei City Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) would be running in the 2024 presidential election.

TPP Legislator Tsai Pi-ru (蔡壁如) believes people should focus on what will happen this year rather than thinking about 2024. She pointed out that there are many more important events for the party slated this year, such as the Aug. 15 Kaohsiung mayoral by-election.

TPP candidate Wu Yi-jheng (吳益政) is running in a stacked field against Former Vice Premier Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP, 民進黨) and Kaohsiung City Legislator Li Mei-jhen (李眉蓁) of the opposition Kuomintang (KMT, 國民黨).

Tsai’s comments came in response to reports by local newspapers that the Taipei Mayor was greenlighting the construction of the Taipei Dome to prepare for a potential election run in 2024.

Before commenting on the prospect of Ko’s run in 2024, she was asked about a court case that involves Ko.

The case involves the claims of an American investigative writer and human rights activist, Ethan Gutmann, in his 2014 book “The Slaughter: Mass Killings, Organ Harvesting, and China’s Secret Solution to its Dissident Problem.“

The author alleges that Ko visited China in 2004 to negotiate prices for illegally harvested organs that originated from executed “Falun Gong” (法輪功) practitioners.

He argues that Ko played at least three roles in the organ trade: the first one as a middle man, who introduces rich Taiwanese to do organ transplantation in China; the second one as a salesman, who sells the most advanced ECMO for Medtronic (美敦力公司); and the last one, which Gutmann thinks is the worst part, as an instructor who teaches Chinese surgeons how to apply ECMO technique, which helps to encourage the possibilities of organ transplantation from Falun Gong prisoners.

Ko responded by asking for proof from the American writer. Since the writer was unable to provide sufficient evidence, the prosecutor’s office announced on March 6 that Ko would not be charged.

Ko has since filed charges against Gutmann and appeared in a Taipei courtroom on Thursday by request of the prosecutor’s office.