Taipei Deputy Mayor Yeh Chin-chuan (
"With my experience in the city government and acquaintance with the team, I believe I can continue the city's development seamlessly," Yeh said yesterday afternoon at a municipal event.
Yeh will first have to win the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) primary to be able to represent the party in the election.
Yeh is known best as the "SARS-fighting hero" during the outbreak in 2003, when he went to command the quarantined Taipei Municipal Hoping Hospital as the director of the city's health bureau.
He is expected to run in the Taipei race in place of the city's former deputy mayor Ou Chin-der (歐晉德). Ou, who is a close aide of Ma's and was reportedly the mayor's preferred successor, has decided not to stand as a candidate.
Many see Yeh's entry in the race as a move to continue the policies of the Ma administration and secure the city's resources for Ma should he become the KMT's candidate in the 2008 presidential election, even though Yeh once called himself "a person who does not play politics."
While recent polls show that another potential candidate to represent the KMT -- former Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) chief Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) -- is more popular, Yeh said he was confident of winning support given his experience in city development.
"I will spare no effort to win the KMT's primary. Although my support rate has been low, I believe that my declaration today will help boost [it]," he said.
In response to Yeh's decision, Hau, who announced he would run last Wednesday, welcomed the deputy mayor's participation.
"Yeh is an old friend, and I am happy to have a fair competition with him in the KMT's primary," he said.
Ma yesterday denied having any preferred successor, despite saying previously that it would be a tremendous help for the next Taipei mayor to have some experience in city development, such as "having served as a deputy mayor for years."
"Yeh called to inform me of his decision this morning and I am treating all candidates alike," he said.
The Taipei mayoral election is shaping up to become a fierce battle within the pan-blue camp.
Besides Yeh and Hau, KMT Legislator John Chiang (
Although Ma may have a preferred successor in mind, he has made it clear that a final candidate for the KMT will be decided through the party's primaries, which are to be held in May or June.