The relationship between National Taiwan University Hospital physician Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), who wants to run for Taipei mayor, and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has recently heated up because of Ko’s remarks about the party, describing it as “chaotic and dangerous” and saying that this makes him hesitant to join.
Not only have DPP officials reacted to Ko’s comment, DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) also criticized him. This is unwelcome news to pan-green supporters and has caused concern among Ko’s backers.
Ko, who is currently ahead in opinion polls, was once the hope of the green camp. His aspirations were originally very simple: He hoped the DPP would not nominate him, but support him in running for mayor as an independent because he believed that only under this condition would he be able to maximize votes by drawing support from a greater number of swing voters. However, this condition was obviously not acceptable to the DPP.
First, there are those within the DPP that believe Ko has an especially close friendship with former DPP chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and this has caused him some trouble. Second, it is not like there is nobody within the DPP that wants to run for mayor. People like DPP Legislator Hsu Tain-tsair (許添財), former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) and lawyer Wellington Koo (顧立雄) all want a stab at the job. As a result, Ko did not join the party and this became a reason for others in the race to boycott him on a technicality.
Maybe it is because Ko thought he would be sidestepped that he started making stronger comments. In all honesty, his criticism of the DPP was not wrong, for that is the main concern of its supporters. For Ko, the DPP, a party he has always supported, may have now turned into a liability for his election hopes, instead of being an asset.
His remarks have not helped his relationship with the party, which saw Ko — who could have originally transcended the DPP — accidentally becoming embroiled in the quarrels and grudges within the party.
Since he is unable to transcend the DPP, he would now be better off trying to change things by joining the party and taking part in its primary.
If some still insist on not allowing the leader in current opinion polls to take part in the primary, they are intolerant and their interests differ from most members.
It was only because no one within the DPP was willing to run for the position of mayor that everyone thought Ko would be a good candidate. However, now the DPP has a heap of people who want to run for the position.
The situation has changed and if the party insists on its current strategy, it will be blamed for not knowing how to change tactics to suit circumstances. It is therefore little wonder that things have heated up.
All Ko was doing was strategically trying to attract more votes from the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), but now things have ended up with Ko arguing with the DPP, which is not a smart move.
Without a doubt, professionalism is important in politics. However, a high IQ can only take one so far; apart from being smart and having ideals, one also needs to know a few tricks of the trade and have adequate experience.
The DPP should not be happy about what is happening either. If the situation does not improve, Ko will run for mayor as an independent and it is not improbable that the DPP might end up coming in third place in the race.
How is it possible that the nation’s largest opposition party — at a time when the president’s approval rating stands at 9 percent — is seen as an election burden rather than an asset? This is surely a question that the party’s supporters will ask.
Lee Tuo-tzu is a freelance writer.
Translated by Drew Cameron