Mon, May 01, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Hsieh remains coy about running for Taipei mayor

CONDITIONAL Frank Hsieh said after meeting with the president that he would participate only if the party reached consensus on the issue

By Ko Shu-ling and Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) remained non-committal yesterday in the face of increasing calls that he run in the year-end Taipei mayoral election.

After discussing the issue with President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) for two hours at Chen's official residence on Chongqing South Road yesterday morning, Hsieh told reporters that the president had told him to consider running in the race because the party needed a "big hitter."

"I told the president that there are many big hitters in the party, and that no matter who comes out to represent us, we will win if we unite together and lose if we don't," he said.

Hsieh jokingly said that he might throw his backing behind People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) if Soong decided to run.

Yesterday's meeting came one day after Hsieh returned from his short-term study at Harvard University. In addition to discussing the elections, Hsieh said that he briefed Chen on his just-concluded overseas trip.

Hsieh said that he was hesitant to run for office because he was yet to see a concrete election strategy for the party. He also said that he did not feel strongly about the election.

He would accept the challenge with pleasure if his candidacy formed part of the party's strategic plan, Hsieh said.

"The condition is that the party has to be unanimous on the matter," he said.

Hsieh said that he told Chen during the meeting that the party still stood a chance of winning the Taipei mayoral election, although it would be a tough battle. The prospects for success in the Kaohsiung mayoral election, on the other hand, were better because of the nature of the electorate there, he said.

As the DPP plans to hold a cross-faction meeting in the near future to solicit opinions from high-ranking party heavyweights on the elections and other issues, Hsieh said that the president told him that he hoped the former premier would participate.

When asked to comment on Hsieh's meeting with the president, former DPP legislator Shen Fu-hsiung (沈富雄), the only party member who has expressed the will to run for Taipei mayor, yesterday said that Hsieh had intentionally sought to create a favorable position for himself. The former premier had worked to create the impression that the DPP could not win in Taipei City without him, Shen said.

"I think what Hsieh wanted was to highlight his own importance and to cast himself as the one and the only candidate who could win for the DPP," Shen said. "He wants everyone to ask him to run in the election on the expectation that unanimity will give the party some momentum."

"I think that Hsieh will agree to campaign [for Taipei mayor] as long as the conditions he set for his participation are met," Shen added.

But Shen did not believe that Chen and Hsieh had reached a deal.

"Elections are complicated and troublesome. They are not as simple as you may imagine. But we could know the outcome [of the meeting] in about five days' time," Shen said.

The DPP will hold its registration for the primaries for the Taipei and Kaohsiung mayoral elections from today through Friday.

Meanwhile, DPP Chairman Yu Shyi-kun said that the meeting between the president and the former premier was a positive development. Yu said such an event could promote the DPP's flagging image and create unity.

As for the nominees for the Taipei and Kaohsiung mayoral elections, Yu repeated that the DPP's primaries would reveal the perfect candidates.

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