Thu, Dec 26, 2002 - Page 2 News List

Mayor Ma takes his oath, pledges to work for city

AFP , TAIPEI

Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday took an oath for another four-year term amid speculation on whether the rising political star from the KMT will run for president in 2004.

During his swearing-in ceremony, Ma, while promising to cooperate with the ruling DPP, pledged to make Taipei the pride of Taiwan.

Ma said: "The 870,000 ballots from Taipei citizens voting for me not only affirms the government's achievements over the past four years but also a high hope for their mandate in the four years ahead."

But the majority of questions for Ma at a press conference after the ceremony focussed on whether he would run for president in 2004.

"My only plan now is to continue working hard as the mayor in the next four years. There is no other plan. As far as I know, the party I belong to has no other plan for me, either," Ma said.

Political observers said Ma's remarks suggested he did not rule out the possibility of running in the next presidential election. He has kept a low profile on the sensitive topic recently.

Ma crushed his DPP opponent Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) in the Dec. 7 mayoral poll by a wide margin of nearly 390,000 votes, or 30 percentage points.

Political analysts say the outcome consolidated Ma's status in the KMT, with expectations mounting that he will become a contender in the 2004 presidential race against President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).

In his inaugural speech, Ma also hailed Taipei residents in choosing him -- a mainlander born in Hong Kong and raised in Taiwan.

"This is the first time a Hong Kong-born mainlander of Hunan origin has been twice elected mayor of Taipei city," Ma said.

"This is what is most extraordinary about Taipei and the most essential meaning of the so-called `new Taiwanese' I have often advocated," he said.

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