Sun, Nov 09, 2014 - Page 1 News List

Taipei Mayoral Race: Civic organizations react to charges of anti-Ko bias

By Tseng Wei-chen and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Civic group representatives watch Friday’s debate between Ko Wen-je and Sean Lien in Taipei. From left to right are Liao Hui-fang of the Taiwan Labor Front; the Taiwan Competitiveness Forum’s Thomas Peng; Chiang Mei of the China Youth Career Development Association; Chang Jing-li of the Taiwan Coalition Against Violence; Lai Hsiao-fen of the Housemakers United Foundation and Peng Yang-kai from the Organization of Urban Re-s.

Photo provided by SET TV

Some civic organizations yesterday joked that they may shy away from being called “civic groups” after questions posed by some of the groups at Friday’s debate between Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei mayoral candidate Sean Lien (連勝文) and independent candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) were seen as being obviously biased against Ko.

Friday night’s televised debate included a session in which the candidates answered questions from six civic groups.

Netizens have said that questions asked by Taiwan Competitiveness Forum chairman Thomas Peng (彭錦鵬) favored the Lien camp and sought to embarrass Ko.

Peng asked Lien how he intends to increase Taipei’s competitive edge as mayor and why he was willing to “risk his life” and run for the post after brushes with death — once when he was shot in the face and another when he was diagnosed with cancer.

Peng then asked Ko about National Taiwan University Hospital’s MG149 account, which he contended was illegal, and asked why Ko had been “exempt from the rule of law” in this case.

The cases refers to allegations that Ko siphoned money from the account for his personal use. After the claims surfaced, hospital president Huang Kuan-tang (黃冠棠) said that the MG149 account was “clean” and the National Audit Office’s probe found no evidence of unlawful activity.

Commenting on civic groups’ actions in the debate, Chen Chao-chien (陳朝建), assistant professor at Ming Chuan University’s department of public affairs, yesterday said that groups do not necessarily have to be politically neutral.

He added that if individuals from a group go on air to ask questions supposedly representing the public, they should seek to be fair and abide by the proper procedures to the best of their ability.

In situations like Friday night’s, members should not be in contact with a political camp in advance and should not seek to twist the truth or mislead people, Chen said, adding that it was inappropriate for a panelist to be blatantly biased.

Judicial Reform Foundation member Kao Yung-cheng (高涌誠) added that groups typically avoid receiving large donations to avoid undue influence.

Lee Li-fen (李麗芬), secretary-general of the group End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes in Taiwan, said that her group will work with any official on policies that will help end exploitation.

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