Thu, Dec 02, 2004 - Page 3 News List

`Ma's corps' stick together on the busy campaign trail

By Debby Wu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Some of Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) former subordinates who are running in the legislative elections gathered at the Legislative Yuan yesterday to promote their campaigns and try to seduce voters with Ma's charms.

Although it is common for legislative candidates to promote their campaigns with endorsements from top party officials such as President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Ma, it is rare to see candidates running joint campaigns with separate endorsements from the same leader, since getting elected to the legislature depends more on individual rather than collective efforts.

Yet Ma's boy scouts, or "Ma's corps" (馬家軍), bonded well and seemed to be boosting not only Ma's popularity but also their own.

The corps includes former Taipei city government officials Lin Cheng-hsiu (林正修), Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) and Kung Wen-chi (孔文吉), incumbent official Su Yin-kuei (蘇盈貴), who is also an incumbent lawmaker, and Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆).

No warm-up

The five candidates said they wanted to campaign as a group and win all five seats on offer, but they denied their joint campaign was a warm-up for a possible presidential campaign by Ma in 2008.

"The legislative elections have nothing to do with Mayor Ma's intentions for the presidential election. We, former and incumbent city government officials, are simply campaigning sharing the same ideals," Wu said.

"The most important thing now is the legislative elections, and we cannot yet predict what will happen in the future," he said.

Lin expressed a similar opinion, saying that the Ma team was campaigning jointly because the members shared the same ideals.

"The Ma team represents society's core values, and Taiwan's future is what we care about most," Lin said.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus, meanwhile, again reminded the pan-blue camp of Ma's potential threat to other party leaders regarding the 2008 presidential bid.

"Ma has been campaigning hard for his corps. This shows that he focuses on his own team to improve his chances in the presidential election in 2008," Tsai said.

"If Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) still want to run in 2008, they will need to be alert to Ma's [potential threat]," he said.

Tsai said that the DPP was happy to see Ma's corps solicit as many votes as possible, because the more votes Ma's corps secured, the more difficult it would be for the pan-blue candidates, who were on the verge of losing, to win the election, and easier for the pan-green candidates to win.

Tsai used Kung, an Aboriginal candidate, as an example and said that Kung's participation in the election had affected the campaigns of Walis Palin (瓦歷斯貝林), a pan-blue-friendly Non-Partisan Solidarity Union candidate, as well as PFP candidate Lin Chun-te (林春德).

In response to the DPP caucus' remark, the KMT said that the Ma corps and the KMT shared the same goal, and the corps was merely trying to secure more votes for the pan-blue candidates and to improve the pan-blue campaign.

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