Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), an independent hopeful for the Taipei mayoralty, yesterday said he was still contemplating joining the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), but hinted that his doing so could cost the DPP the election.
“Why would you want to lock a lion up in a cage when you know that it’s going to cost you the election?” Ko said, when asked about his relationship with the party in an interview with Newtalk, an online news site.
Ko, director of National Taiwan University Hospital’s Department of Traumatology, appears to have described himself as a lion because his support rate in surveys has led all aspirants, trailing only former Taipei Easycard Corp president Sean Lien (連勝文), son of former vice president Lien Chan (連戰) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).
However the physician, a longtime DPP supporter, acknowledged that it would be impossible for the pan-green camp to win the capital, which was a perennial KMT stronghold, unless the opposition, including the Taiwan Solidarity Union and the People First Party, consolidates and rallies behind one candidate, who “doesn’t necessarily have to be a DPP nominee.”
While this is why he is arranging a second meeting with DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), Ko acknowledged that the DPP would have a hard time explaining to its supporters why it insisted on nominating someone with a much lower support rate than his and therefore causing division in the pan-green camp.
Ko was referring to recent surveys showing he is leading pan-green camp aspirants lawyer Wellington Koo (顧立雄) and DPP Legislator Hsu Tain-tsair (許添財).
Meanwhile, several DPP aspirants said Ko would have to join the party before being included in the DPP-conducted public opinion poll to determine the final candidate.
Ko has said that if his support rate dropped lower than the DPP aspirants at some point, he would exit the race.
“Everyone’s decision, including mine and the DPP’s, will have to have a rationale behind it and be scrutinized by the public and history,” Ko said.
Asked about his views on imprisoned former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), Ko, who served on Chen’s private medical team, said he believed that Chen — who is serving a 20-year prison term for corruption — had committed “moral mistakes,” but that the most important issue was that he never received a fair trial.
“I’ll say that we must give him a fair trial. And while I’m not supportive of an amnesty, I think he should be granted medical parole or house arrest because his health has been deteriorating,” Ko said.