Tue, Dec 02, 2014 - Page 8 News List

EDITORIAL: Ko has his work cut out for him

Taipei mayor-elect Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) has certainly accomplished what at first must have seemed like an impossible mission, defeating Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) rival Sean Lien (連勝文) by a margin of nearly 250,000 votes. However, the mayor-elect must be very cautious in taking on what is coming at him, as governing the city will be much more challenging than running a campaign.

Leaving his home the morning after winning the election, Ko told the media waiting outside for him that that he had a sleepless night, as he was thinking about all the things he needs to take care of now that he has been elected.

It is a good thing that Ko knows that the challenges ahead will not be easy.

The first challenge he may encounter could be communication with the city council. Former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) was the first non-KMT mayor of Taipei since the city was turned into a special municipality, but Chen suffered from a difficult relationship between the city government and the council, since the pan-blue camp, including the KMT and the New Party, held a majority in the council.

Although Ko has no party affiliation, he is widely regarded as being closer to the pan-green camp, and thus it will be interesting to see how well he will interact with a council in which the pan-blue camp holds slightly more seats than the pan-green camp, and how well his idea of acting beyond blue and green will work in real politics.

It also remains interesting to see how Ko can turn his campaign promises into feasible policies.

For instance, to address his promise to realize justice in housing and urban renewal, Ko yesterday said that he would appoint Lin Chin-jung (林欽榮) — who has previously served as deputy mayor of Greater Tainan, director-general of the Construction and Planning Agency and head of construction or urban development departments in Taipei, Hsinchu County and Greater Kaohsiung — as deputy mayor.

Lin is a good choice, considering his background and experience. However, he is also controversial, as the large-scale development or urban renewal projects in Hsinchu County and Greater Tainan that he helped plan triggered strong protests from local residents.

To be fair, just because Lin has been involved in some controversial development projects does not mean he would create similar controversies in Taipei, since it the mayor has the final say, and Ko has repeatedly said that he would not hesitate to remove officials involved in misconduct. It will be interesting to see how Ko will employ the talents of experienced technocrats without repeating the mistakes of the past.

Meanwhile, Ko’s personal tendency to admit to his mistakes and make changes could be a positive or negative trait as mayor.

On the positive side is that Ko would not be likely to insist on a policy that proves to be ill-advised, and would make adjustments accordingly. However, frequent changes in policy direction upset people and create trouble for the city government as well.

There is no doubt Ko is a good leader, as he has served as head of the surgical intensive care unit at National Taiwan University Hospital and managed a campaign team with hundreds of people from different backgrounds that was initially rather chaotic.

However, governing a city is not quite the same, for a mayor must be able to deal with different interest groups and make compromises. Hopefully, Ko, who appears to be a fast learner, will learn to become an effective mayor in the shortest time possible, as the people of Taipei have high expectations of him.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top