Outspoken Taipei mayoral aspirant Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), director of National Taiwan University Hospital’s Department of Traumatology, yesterday showed no remorse for his outspokenness, saying that honesty is the No. 1 priority for a politician and he was still taking things on his own pace in preparation for the election.
The physician said he did have second thoughts about his recent comments about imprisoned former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), when he stated that Chen is now a “wreck” and President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) should not fear the former president’s political re-emergence and grant him amnesty.
Responding to questions on the sidelines of a book-signing event, Ko, who was on Chen’s private medical team, said that his comments “literally told Chen that his health is rapidly deteriorating.”
Former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), who has expressed her intention to join the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) primary for the Taipei mayoral election next year, yesterday accused Ko of making the campaign a personal popularity contest and failing to discuss city affairs.
Ko said he preferred positive campaigning and called on all candidates to refrain from smearing each other.
The complexity of the mayoral election has been a much discussed topic lately, in particular within the DPP, as Ko and Lu were on a long five-man list of party aspirants, which also includes Legislator Hsu Tain-tsair (許添財), Taipei City Council Deputy Speaker Chou Po-ya (周柏雅) and lawyer Wellington Ku (顧立雄).
Although all but Ko are DPP members, Ko is leading in most public opinion polls.
The physician has remained tight-lipped about whether he intends to join the DPP or run in the race as an independent.
“I’m preparing for the election at my own pace,” he said.
Ko has made several controversial comments related to the DPP, DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and former chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), calling for them to either run in the DPP chairman election or the presidential election in 2016, but not in both races.
Ko again said that if Tsai and Su decided to run in the mayoral elections next year as reported and are eventually elected, they “should seriously consider their decision of leaving the mayoral posts and running in the presidential election in 2016.”
“You should also ask New Taipei City (新北市) Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) and Greater Tainan Mayor Williams Lai (賴清德) the same question as they have been mentioned as potential presidential candidates,” he told reporters.
Ko attempted to play down the attention on his outspokenness and the “troubles” his comments had caused by saying that being honest should never make someone a hero, and neither should it make someone a villain.
“Being a politician has never been difficult for me. It’s just about finding and keeping your conscience,” he said.
The physician said he remained open to all options, including dropping out of the race, because “the most important thing is finding the right man for the job.”
“If it’s not me, then we should let others do it,” he said.