During a recent debate organized by SET TV between the two main candidates in the Taipei mayoral election, Sean Lien (連勝文) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and independent Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), nitpicking political commentators supporting Lien criticized Ko for arriving dressed in a shirt and a jacket, saying that he lacked respect for the people of Taipei.
Both Lien, who was dressed in a suit and tie, and Ko remained true to their backgrounds, so there was little to criticize.
If people want to nitpick, it should be over the six civic groups that were chosen to pose questions. Should they not have been neutral and asked candidates about their positions on public policies rather than focusing on their political orientation? The questions posed to Ko by the representatives of the three groups recommended by Lien and his campaign team were slanderous, yet when addressing Lien, their tune changed completely. This blatant lack of neutrality, fairness and impartiality tarnishes the image of civic groups concerned with public welfare.
However, the words and actions of the groups are a reflection of the character of the candidate who they were recommended by. As certain groups did nothing to hide their intentions, it was clear to all which candidate is supported by people who are impartial, open and aboveboard, who transcend the blue-green divide and are concerned with what is right and wrong, and which candidate is supported by people who are intolerant and interested only in intensifying the blue-green polarization.
At a time when the nation is a long way from establishing sunshine laws, to enhance transparency in government, Ko has released information about his personal income and been transparent about his campaign funds. He has also pledged that if he wins, he would not join any political party and demand that all top officials pull out of all party activities. Why can Lien not follow Ko’s lead and place all his information on the table for everyone to see?
Chang Kuo-tsai is a retired National Hsinchu University of Education associate professor and a former deputy secretary-general of the Taiwan Association of University Professors.
Translated by Perry Svensson
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