Former premier Hau Pei-tsun (郝柏村) has been trying to turn the Taipei mayoral election into a standoff between those who favor Taiwan remaining the “Republic of China” and those who support Taiwanese independence, in a repeat of the 1994 mayoral race that developed into a battle over national identity — It is as if the clock has been turned back 20 years.
At the heart of the Taipei mayoral contest is the question of whether the candidates can propose effective ways of handling the urgent problems posed by the city’s wealth gap, skyrocketing housing prices, falling salaries, food safety controls, an aging society, declining birthrates, urban renewal and a bloated local administration, to create an environment where residents can live and work in peace.
To wilfully turn the focus of the election away from municipal issues toward the independence or unification issue — which has nothing to do with the responsibilities of the Taipei City Government — is tantamount to treating voters as fools, and is nothing but a tasteless trick.
Looking back at the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) mayoral primary in April, KMT Taipei mayoral candidate Sean Lien (連勝文) defeated KMT Legislator Ting Shou-chung (丁守中) after receiving more than 10,000 votes, eclipsing Ting’s less than 5,000 ballots. In the opinion poll section of the primary, Lien also defeated Ting, garnering the support of 39 percent of respondents, compared with Ting’s 36 percent support rating.
No one is probably more confused over this result than Ting, who was fiercely attacked by his party comrades despite having been preparing for the role of Taipei mayor for 20 years and even being named “legislator with the most outstanding record.”
Lo Cheng-chung is an assistant professor at the Southern Taiwan University of Science and Technology Institute of Financial and Economic Law.
Translated by Perry Svensson
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