Sun, Dec 04, 2005 - Page 4 News List

Jason Hu flays DPP in Taichung City

HEALTHY LEAD Not unexpectedly, the KMT's Jason Hu held on to the mayor's post for a second term, with more voters backing him this year than in the last poll in 2001

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taichung Mayor Jason Hu (胡志強), of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), won reelection last night when he triumphed over his chief competitor, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍).

Hu declared victory after receiving about 250,000 votes, marking an improvement on his performance four years ago, when he received about 213,000 votes. A feared pan-blue split did not affect Hu's support base, with the People First Party's Shen Chih-hui (沈智慧) admitting defeat halfway through the ballot-counting process.

Fireworks immediately lit up the sky after Hu announced victory from his campaign headquarters. Supporters waved flags and shouted "Congratulations, Mayor Hu! Go, go, Mayor Hu" as he made a victory speech.

"I want to thank all residents for your support over the last four years. We will change Taichung City for the better, and make it the brightest city in the Asia-Pacific region," Hu said.

Meanwhile, Lin was admitting defeat from his campaign headquarters.

"This temporary failure gives us a chance to collect our thoughts and reflect on what has happened. I hope this experience will be helpful for the democratic movement in the future," he said yesterday, as he bowed to thank his supporters.

Hu's success in winning a second term was expected, as he enjoyed a steady lead in polls from the beginning of his campaign.

Although the race went largely unnoticed as the electoral focus fell on more unpredictable battles around the country, a series of attacks on Hu by the DPP recently did turn some of the attention back onto what was an intense battle.

The DPP's focus on Hu's health, for example, remained an issue to the very end, with some citizens receiving text messages at about 4am yesterday that said Hu had been sent to the hospital at midnight and was in a critical condition.

Hu cast his vote yesterday morning at a polling station at a local high school and condemned the rumor.

"I am surprised to learn such news, and feel sorry that the climate of the elections is being ruined like this ... I will take legal action against those who spread the rumors," he said.

Police traced the message on the Internet, and identified at least two sources, one of which was in the Philippines.

Hu suffered a mild stroke two years ago while visiting the US.

Possibly as a result of this, his health came under scrutiny in the course of the campaign.

The health issue, along with other accusations, including allegations that he had added a 10-year period of study in the UK to his public service record for a pension application, failed to have a negative impact on Hu's campaign.

Lin resigned from his post as head of the Government Information Office (GIO) earlier this year to enter the race. However, his critics have accused him of being a carpetbagger. In addition, Lin's political experience and popularity lag far behind that of Hu, who previously served as both GIO director and minister of foreign affairs.

Having won a second term, Taichung's deteriorating public order, a problem that has haunted the city for some time, will remain the most important issue awaiting the mayor's attention over the next four years.

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