Fri, Jan 13, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Ex-deputy shocks Ma by refusing to run in Taipei race

NO INTEREST The former deputy mayor of Taipei said he had not considered running for Taipei mayor, but Ma said he will try to change the official's mind

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Despite repeatedly denying that he had a favored successor, Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday said he was astonished to learn that his former deputy mayor had said no to entering the mayoral election, adding that he would try to change his mind.

Former Taipei deputy mayor Ou Chin-der (歐晉德), a close aide to Ma who has been viewed as the mayor's preferred successor, announced on Wednesday that he will not stand as a candidate the year-end Taipei mayoral election.

Ma yesterday expressed great surprise on learning Ou's decision, and said he would try to convince Ou to run.

"Ou has the qualifications [to run for mayor] and I welcome all excellent people to participate in the race to help us find the perfect Taipei mayor," Ma said yesterday after attending a municipal event.

Ma, who is also the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) chairman, said that given Ou's experience in the city government and a high rate of support among the grassroots, he had expected the former deputy mayor to consider joining the race.

"I will try to convince him to change his mind and reconsider," he added.

In response to Ma's remarks, Ou, however, remained firm yesterday, saying he had made the decision a long time ago.

Ou, who is currently chairman of the Taipei Smart Card Corporation, said he has never been interested in becoming Taipei's next mayor.

"I know of Mayor Ma's expectations, and he has encouraged me and trusted me, but I've never considered joining the Taipei mayoral election," he said.

Ou's decision not to step into Ma's shoes may make it more difficult for Ma to secure and take advantage of the resources he has built up as the Taipei mayor.

The city's financial, administrative and personnel resources would be beneficial should Ma become the KMT's presidential candidate in the 2008 election.

Ma said on Wednesday that it would be a tremendous help for the next Taipei mayor if he or she had some experience in city development, such as "having served as a deputy mayor for years."

The remarks were seen as indicating Ma's intention to support Ou as his successor.

With Ou's decision not to run, and People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong's (宋楚瑜) intention to enter the Taipei race, it may now require a greater effort by Ma to integrate the power struggle within the pan-blue camp and to come up with an ideal candidate for the post.

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