Tue, Aug 10, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Ma shrugs off father's aspirations

POLITICAL FUTURE The mayor said the remarks about his presidential ambitions -- and people standing in his way -- were those of a doting and elderly parent

By Chang Yun-ping  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday played down some Father's Day remarks by his father, who said that he hoped his son would run for president.

Ma Ho-ling (馬鶴凌) was quoted in an interview with a Malaysia-based newspaper on Sunday as saying that he wanted his son to run for president but that he was worried that there are "elements from various aspects" that are unfriendly to the mayor's road to the presidency, including the refusal by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) to relinquish power.

"Since the day Ying-jeou was born, I made a lot of effort to instill a sense of duty in him regarding this nation's well-being. Running for the presidency is his ultimate goal," the 84-year-old senior Ma was quoted as saying.

Although the general perception is that the mayor is aiming for the 2008 presidential election -- given his popularity within the KMT -- Ma Ying-jeou yesterday tried to allay any sensitivities caused by his father's remarks.

He said that it was only natural for an elderly parent to ask for a bright future from his children.

Ma Ying-jeou said he was not aware of the details of his father's interview, but even if the remarks were accurate, people should not attach excessive political connotations to them.

"Please understand my feelings as the son of an 84-year-old father who spoke of his Father's Day wish for a bright future for his son," the mayor said yesterday in a written announcement.

"Since I entered politics, I have never had excessive ambition for something out of reach, nor been keen on chasing power ? the most important task for me at the moment is to focus on the city administration; otherwise all this was nothing but empty words," he said.

Ma Ho-ling's comments lead to renewed speculation about whether or not Lien and Soong would step down.

But in a rare move, Premier Yu Shyi-kun defended Ma Ying-jeou yesterday, saying "Lien and Soong should step down as early as possible so they can leave behind a good reputation."

In a radio interview, Yu said Ma Ho-ling's remarks reflected not only the anxiety of an elderly father, but that of other people around the mayor and Ma Ying-jeou himself.

"Lien and Soong should retire as soon as possible for the sake of both the development of their parties and the power transfer of the generations. If they could retire early, they might leave themselves a good reputation," Yu said.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) was a bit more sarcastic, saying "there have been quite a lot of failures for those who have made up their minds to be president."

When reporters asked Lien about the idea of Ma running for president, the KMT boss declined to comment, saying only "you have to ask Ma Ho-ling."

KMT Policy Committee Convener Tseng Yung-chuan (曾永權) sought to defuse the issue, saying that it was not time yet to consider the next presidential candidate.

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