Tue, Jul 29, 2014 - Page 3 News List

INTERVIEW: Sean Lien says he is his own man

BUSINESS SKILLS:The KMT’s candidate for Taipei mayor said he would like to introduce the KPI system to help boost bureaucratic efficiency and make the city more ambitious

By Chen Hsiao-yi, Shih Hsiao-kuang and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei mayoral candidate Sean Lien gestures during an interview with the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) in Taipei on July 17.

Photo: George Tsorng, Taipei Times

Saying “I am who I am” in response to queries on how he is trying to emerge from the shadow of his father, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei mayoral candidate Sean Lien (連勝文) also brushed aside his main rival’s idea of forming an opposition coalition as purely a political move.

Largely seen by the more traditional supporters of the pan-blue camp as the leading figure in the KMT’s second generation, Lien told the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) in an interview on July 17 that he is seeking to change his family’s image among the public and, more importantly, to walk his own path as much as possible.

Using the campaign slogan “alternation of generations” gave him a great advantage over his rivals in the KMT primaries, but outside of the party, his family background is not seen as such a plus and has come in for some closer scrutiny.

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, even though both his father and grandfather were long-term public servants.

In a nod to the “princeling” label that is sometimes applied to him, Sean Lien said: “I am who I am today.”

He said that he could not change who his father is just because he is participating in an election. He said he is proud of what his ancestors, as well as his father and other elder members of the family have done for Taiwan.

“What I am about to become is not a ‘second-generation government official’ (官二代), but ‘the next generation of statesman’ (第二代政治家), a ‘statesman 2.0 (政治家2.0),’ so to speak,” he said.

When asked about comments that the average age of his campaign team is on the high side, he said he has learned that running in an election is very similar to leading an army in battle.

“One has to pay attention to all kinds of details and accept ideas from both older members and younger,” he said.

“You cannot tailor an election [campaign] to one specific age group,” he said. “You need to integrate all of them.”

“I have to be like a sponge, taking in all the ideas as much as possible, using them if they are right, changing them if the suggestions need fine tuning,” he added.

Regarding a proposition made by his main rival, independent candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) about forming an opposition coalition, Sean Lien said that while Ko is running as an independent, he has admitted to holding deep-green ideological views.

“Yet because he is now running for office, he is pushing for the formation of an opposition coalition. To tell the truth, politics must have ideals and cannot simply be based on calculation of winning and losing,” Sean Lien said.

Lien said he has many friends in the pan-green camp, but that does not mean he can be partners with them politically.

“If you differ from someone completely in terms of ideology, but insist on forming a coalition for the sake of elections, it would be a disaster for the public if that team won,” he said.

As an example, what if “such a coalition won the election and the city council proposed a policy that was opposed by both the KMT and the Democratic Progressive Party [DPP], what would the city do?” he said.

Turning to his plans for Taipei, Sean Lien said the city lacks ambition.

When you travel to Seoul, Tokyo, Shanghai or Singapore, you are strongly reminded of their ambition to become the “first in Asia,” but such ambitions, or even voices of it, were scarce to non-existent in Taipei, he said.

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