Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) hopefuls in the Taipei party’s mayoral election primary shared the stage in a televised debate yesterday and revealed that their platforms were not significantly different from each other’s as most contenders pledged to tackle high housing prices and improve the employment situation for young people.
The four aspirants — former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), lawyer Wellington Koo (顧立雄) and legislators Pasuya Yao (姚文智) and Hsu Tain-tsair (許添財) — took part in the debate, which lasted two hours.
The DPP has not ruled out a second debate.
Citing high housing prices as the city’s most urgent issue, the participants said they would tackle the issue by facilitating a social housing program and implementing public-funded urban renewal.
They also supported closing the Taipei International Airport (Songshan) and transforming it into a public park, a project Yao identified as the central theme of his campaign, and which is aimed at revitalizing the city’s west side and providing space for large-scale social housing projects.
The aspirants shared similar policies aimed at fighting corruption, improving infrastructure and creating jobs, saying that former Taipei mayor and President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) failed to make positive changes to the city and improve government efficiency over the past 16 years.
During the event, which was more of a platform presentation than a debate, each contender made a six-minute opening statement and a five-minute summation. In between, each answered two questions submitted by the public and two more drawn from a list of submissions from other teams.
Yao raised eyebrows when he displayed a model of a park situated on the Songshan airport site during his presentation.
He said that the plan would generate up to NT$10 trillion (US$330.5 billion) in output.
Lu appeared to criticize National Taiwan University Hospital physician Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), an independent whose support has exceeded pan-green contenders, saying that Ko’s “political DNA” is questionable despite his past pro-DPP positions.
Lu, without naming the independent, said: “it would be dangerous for a pro-Beijing candidate to win the election.”
Economist and former Tainan mayor Hsu concentrated on the economy and governance, saying that he was the only aspirant with experience and substantial policies to bring about positive change.
Koo wrapped up the debate with a summary of his career as a lawyer and his aspirations to enter politics, saying that he has always tried to “do the right thing,” with a focus on doing good deeds.
“If someday I lost that innocence in me, I would step away from politics,” Koo said.
The aspirants are scheduled to meet again on Sunday in an event organized by the Taiwan Association of University Professors, at which they have a chance to debate independent Neil Peng (馮光遠), and possibly Ko.