Former Taipei EasyCard Corp chairman Sean Lien (連勝文) will have to address the public’s biggest doubt about his Taipei mayoral bid — his “princeling” status — despite a pledge to donate all his salary to charity to ease those concerns, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and its mayoral contenders said yesterday.
The DPP will do whatever it takes to end the “princeling regime” in the nation’s capital, party spokesperson Lin Chun-hsien (林俊憲) said in response to Lien’s announcement yesterday morning.
From President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌), Taipei has been governed by the second generation of high-ranking Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) officials since 1998, but it has not witnessed any major developments, Lin said.
Quite the contrary, major infrastructure projects in the city have either stalled or resulted in corruption scandals, Lin said.
“Coming from a wealthy family is not a sin,” said lawyer Wellington Koo (顧立雄), one of the five aspirants in the DPP primary for Taipei mayor.
Sean Lien, 43, is a son of former vice president and former KMT chairman Lien Chan (連戰). His family assets are estimated to be worth tens of billions of dollars despite his father and grandfather being public servants.
Koo said Sean Lien would have to answer two questions: “First, why has he always highlighted his life as ‘marked by a series of setbacks and challenges’ and himself as an entrepreneur and not a princeling; and second, how did his family manage to accumulate such massive wealth?”
“The public will scrutinize him on those two areas throughout his campaign,” Koo said, adding that Sean Lien should not be seen as a reformist in the KMT simply because of his “strained relations” with Ma.
Another mayoral aspirant, DPP Legislator Pasuya Yao (姚文智), said Sean Lien decided to donate all his salary “out of the fear that people would make his background and wealth a campaign issue.”
Yao said Sean Lien has only offered “empty words and premature ideas” about his campaign platform.
Former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), another DPP aspirant, said Sean Lien’s choice of location to announce his bid was “ironic.”
Sean Lien held his press conference on the west side of Taipei and mentioned that the Lien family traces its roots back to Dadaocheng — one of the earliest centers of commerce in the city.
However, western Taipei is now one of the poorest and most underdeveloped areas in the city, Lu said, adding that unlike the Liens, who prospered and became rich after moving out of the district, most residents who live in the area have long suffered from a lack of job opportunities and a dilapidated neighborhood.
She also questioned the timing of his bid considering the Lien family’s close ties with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), with Sean Lien officially announcing he was joining the KMT primary after his father returned from a meeting with Xi in Beijing last week.