Lashing out at KMT incumbent Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) conservative personality and questioning Ma's sense of national identity, former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) yesterday hailed DPP Taipei mayoral candidate Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) as the candidate who possessed the leadership qualities needed for the job of Taipei city mayor.
"The mayor of a national capital cannot be slap-dash about his sense of national identity," said the former president at a rally for Lee Ying-yuan held last night at Yuanshan No. 1 park. "The mayor will come across many opportunities to attend international events on behalf of the national capital."
Despite rain, the rally drew more then 30,000 supporters to the venue, according to Lee Ying-yuan's campaign camp. Many of the crowd were supporters from Yunlin County, Lee Ying-yuan's home community.
The rally marked the first time that Lee Teng-hui has publicly and formally endorsed Lee Ying-yuan's mayoral candidacy.
"I want everyone to ask Ma this question: When Taiwan faces a crucial national security situation, which side would he [Ma] take," Lee Teng-hui told the rally, citing Ma's asking crowds in the past not to bring Taiwan's national flags into a stadium during a sporting even last December.
In his address to the rally, Lee Teng-hui continued to attack Ma, saying that Ma had his eye on the president's job and therefore had not been attending to his mayoral duties properly.
"We want a mayor who really wants to serve city residents, not a political idol who only knows how to engage in publicity seeking," the former president said.
"I have a good impression of Lee Ying?yuan," said Lee Teng-hui. "Lee Ying-yuan is courageous, down-to-earth and harbors a strong compassion for people and the land.
Speaking in his capacity as a former mayor of Taipei, Lee Teng-hui said that he saw no major development had been achieved in the city in the past four years under Ma's leadership.
"On the other hand, I find the blueprints and proposals for Taipei City proposed by Lee Ying-yuan full of innovation and vision," said Lee Teng-hui, who was Taipei City mayor from 1978 to 1981.
"Speaking from my experience as a former city mayor, a mayor needs to be a leader who is a team player and has good problem-solving skills and a capability in coping with emergencies," said Lee Teng-hui, saying that Lee Ying-yuan possesses these qualities while Ma had shown that he lacked them.
Aside from expressing confidence about winning the mayoral race, Lee Ying-yuan also criticized Ma for lack of integrity.
"[Former President] Lee raised Mr. Ma's hand to boost Ma's support in the 1998 mayoral election," Lee Ying-yuan said. "But within a year, Ma led an illegal protest to directly force the former president to step down [as KMT chairman.]"
"One needs to be of high moral integrity to be the mayor for a national capital," said Lee, with his running mate, former chairman of Chinese Petroleum Corp Regis Chen (陳朝威) standing alongside him.
Prior to the rally, Lee Ying-yuan staged an address from a soap box in front of the Dayeh Takashimaya Department store in Tienmu. Later in the afternoon, he took part in a street procession with Regis Chen around Chungcheng and Wanhua districts while his wife, Laura Huang (黃月桂), campaigned to passers-by in Hsimenting on behalf of her husband.
With the mayoral election less than a week away, Lee Teng-hui's stumping for Lee Ying-yuan last night was deemed by Lee Ying-yuan's campaigning camp as an important move to help swing votes toward Lee Ying-yuan.