Independent Taipei mayoral hopeful Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) yesterday declined an invitation to join a televised debate with Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) aspirants on Sunday, saying that it would not be helpful to determing the pan-green camp’s candidate.
The Taiwan Association of University Professors (TAUP), which is organizing the event, has invited the four DPP aspirants, Ko and independent Neil Peng (馮光遠), an award-winning author and playwright, about their platforms for the November election.
Ko, who has outpolled other possible pan-green camp contenders, has been in talks with the DPP over the past few months about an “integration mechanism” to produce a single pan-green candidate, but has also said he would prefer to remain an independent.
Ko said he turned down the debate invitation for two reasons:
“One, I do not think I could make it back to Taipei [in time] after a campaign event in Yilan County. Second, the debate would not be helpful to the integration process,” he said.
The platforms of the four DPP contenders, who took part in a party-sponsored debate on Sunday, were similar on social housing and closing Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport), but “the important thing is who is able to execute those plans,” he said.
TAUP president Lu Chung-chin (呂忠津) said his group’s debate, to be broadcast by Formosa Television, would go on without Ko.
The four DPP members — former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), lawyer Wellington Koo (顧立雄) and legislators Pasuya Yao (姚文智) and Hsu Tain-tsair (許添財) — have agreed to take part, as has Peng.
DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), who has come under fire for not being able to work out a compromise between the four DPP hopefuls and Ko, yesterday set a deadline for the negotiations. Su said he hoped the process would be completed by the end of May.
He did not elaborate.
Many party members have proposed a “two-phase” nomination process, which would see the four DPP contenders compete in a poll and the winner of that poll facing Ko in a second public opinion poll.