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Sun, Feb 24, 2002 - Page 3 News List

KMT keeps focus on Kaohsiung

COOPERATION The KMT says it will soon meet with the PFP to discuss fielding a joint candidate in the Kaohsiung mayoral race but that the candidate might be their own

By Stephanie Low  /  STAFF REPORTER

The KMT will soon contact the PFP to discuss plans to nominate a joint candidate for Kaohsiung mayor, KMT Secretary-General Lin Fong-cheng (林豐正) said yesterday.

As the year-end Taipei and Kaohsiung mayoral races are the top issue on the KMT's political agenda, the party will try to seek consensus within the party and cooperate with the PFP in order to win, Lin said.

Lin, however, rejected the possibility of a deal in which the KMT would support a PFP candidate for Kaohsiung mayor in exchange for the PFP's backing for Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) re-election bid.

He said the KMT will only support a PFP candidate if the candidate is proven to be more suitable than the KMT's.

"The party affiliation of the candidate isn't very important. What we need to do is to find the best candidate," Lin said. "If the PFP has a candidate who is superior to the KMT's candidate, the matter is open for discussion."

While Ma's candidacy is almost certain, the KMT is still looking for the right candidate for Kaohsiung mayor. Kaohsiung-elected lawmaker Huang Chao-shun (黃昭順) and Kaohsiung City Council speaker Huang Chi-chuan (黃啟川) are reportedly two possible candidates.

As for the PFP, the party's vice chairman Chang Chao-hsiung (張昭雄) is considered a suitable candidate for the Kaoshiung race, but Chang has shown no interest in the post.

Other candidates favored by the PFP reportedly include former minister of justice Liao Cheng-hao (廖正豪), currently an independent, and Wang Chung-yu (王鍾渝), a KMT legislator-at-large and former chairman of the China Steel Corp (中鋼).

James Chen (陳健治), director-general of the KMT's Organization and Development Committee, said the party plans to select the Kaoshiung mayor candidate through coordination efforts and will avoid holding a primary.

According to Chen, the candidate should meet two major criteria, namely that he or she should be a Kaohsiung resident and be ethnic Taiwanese.

Chen said that by selecting a candidate who is ethnically Tai-wanese, the party hopes to avoid manipulation of the ethnic divide that he said always occurs during election campaigns.

He added that the fact Ma is an ethnic mainlander also makes it important that the party field a candidate of a different background in the south.

Under these circumstances, Wang, an ethnic mainlander, may not be a suitable candidate for Kaohsiung mayor, Chen said.

Unlike the Taipei race, the Kaohsiung election is expected to be an uphill battle for the KMT and PFP as they try to unseat DPP incumbent, Frank Hsieh (謝長廷).

The DPP, meanwhile, is working hard to find a candidate who is strong enough to block Ma's re-election bid in Taipei.

DPP Secretary-general Wu Nai-jen (吳乃仁) said the party will definitely find such a candidate.

Even if it does not succeed in defeating Ma, the DPP will at least deal him a heavy blow, Wu said.

The DPP is reportedly considering having Minister of Justice Chen Ding-nan (陳定南) run for Taipei Mayor.

Other possible candidates include Central Personnel Administration Lee Yi-yang (李逸洋), Council for Hakka Affairs Chairwoman Yeh Chu-lan (葉菊蘭) as well as senior lawmakers Shen Fu-hsiung (沈富雄) and Hung Chi-chang (洪奇昌).

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