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Sat, Feb 17, 2001 - Page 2 News List

Mayor disgruntled with Taipei

LOOKING AHEAD Upon learning after his trip to Hong Kong that Taipei was not on par with its counterpart in some areas, Ma is taking steps to ensure the city improves

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taipei City Councilor Teng Chia-chi (鄧家基) of the New Party agrees.

"He's not like those big shot politicians of Hong Kong, most of whom are appointed by Beijing and need not court their voters," he said.

Taipei City Councilor Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康) of the DPP said that Ma's popularity derives from his clean personal image.

"Hong Kong doesn't know many of Taiwan's politicians, but they're familiar with Ma not only because he was born in Hong Kong, but also because he's one of Taiwan's rising political stars who has good looks and a clean-cut reputation," he said.

Tuan added that the media also plays a pivotal role.

"The media gives him extensive and positive coverage because he's the first Taiwanese official received by the Hong Kong government," he said.

Overall, critics give high marks to Ma's ice-breaking trip to the Chinese territory.

"Although the trip may seem futile because no treaty or agreements were signed nor was the exact time of Tung's visit finalized, it serves as the stepping stone for future interaction for both parties," Teng said.

Tuan said it was a successful trip more for Ma himself than for the country.

"It seems Ma has done a good job in endorsing President Chen and in protecting Taiwan's national dignity by singing the ROC's national anthem during a speech. The efforts seem more aimed at shaping his personal image than helping foster closer ties with the territory," Tuan said.

Despite Ma's insistence on seeking a second term as city mayor, he has been seen as one of the potential candidates to run for the presidency.

Tuan, however, disagrees.

"Well, at least he's not qualified to run in the next presidential election," he said. "It will take time for him to mature as a state leader. Besides, he has to overcome many obstacles, including pressure from his own party."

Tuan's remark was echoed by Teng.

"I'm sure that he's a good mayor, but I'm not that certain he'll make a good president, at least not for now," he said. "I think he has the potential but he needs to spend more time learning how to become one and learning how to gain the support of the Taiwanese and grassroots voters. When the time is right, I'm sure he'll shine."

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