Despite repeatedly denying that he had a favored successor, Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (
Former Taipei deputy mayor Ou Chin-der (
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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Editorial: Soong's gotta have it