Tue, Jul 29, 2014 - Page 3 News List

INTERVIEW: Ko frames election as battle between justice, injustice

By Chen Hsiao-yi, Tu Chu-min and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

Independent Taipei mayoral candidate Ko Wen-je gestures during an interview with the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) in Taipei on Monday last week.

Photo: Liu Hsin-der, Taipei Times

Physician-turned-independent Taipei mayoral candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) sees the mayoral election as the ultimate battle between justice and injustice.

Ko, whose main rival in the Nov. 29 election is Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) candidate Sean Lien (連勝文), said in an interview with the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) on Monday last week that he does not see the poll as a battle between social classes, between a commoner and the privileged.

After all, he said, he has a home on Xinyi Road, in an area with the highest housing prices in the city, while Lien lives in The Palace (帝寶), a luxury apartment complex in downtown Taipei.

However, his home cost NT$65 million (US$2.1 million) and he is still paying off the mortgage, with about NT$20 million left to go.

“My wife and I bought the house using our own hard-earned money,” Ko said.

He said he has worked the night shift at National Taiwan University Hospital, where he is an emergency room physician — at NT$6,000 per night — while his wife, a pediatrician at Taipei City Hospital’s Heping Fuyou Branch, works the night shift several times a month to help pay off the loan.

The biggest difference between himself and Lien is that he has to earn his keep, while Lien has his family’s fortune to fall back on, Ko said, adding that he wondered if Lien’s home in The Palace was paid for with Lien’s own earnings.

The is a problem with the uneven distribution of wealth in Taiwan, but that is not the primary problem with society, Ko said.

“The true problem lies in the fact that fortune and poverty is passed down from generation to generation,” said Ko, who beat Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Pasuya Yao (姚文智) in a public opinion survey last month to gain the party’s backing to represent the pan-green camp in the November poll.

“Why did young people choose to sleep on the streets of Taipei for several nights during the Sunflower movement where the temperature was about 10 degrees Celsius? The answer is quite simple. The younger generation feels that they have no hope, no chance [to succeed] because when they finish college they will be greeted with a base salary of NT$22,000 per month. Such a meager wage will not allow them to afford a home in Taipei,” he said.

Asked about Lien’s pledge to introduce the key performance indicators (KPI) system to the city government — a corporate method of evaluating efficacy of measures — should he win the November election, Ko said Lien was speaking of corporate management and not corporate culture.

KPI is common knowledge, but a true corporate culture is the ability to establish new concepts, Ko said.

A person in a company with an established corporate culture would ask “why” people existed, “who” they were, Ko said.

“If you are a civil servant, is it for a chance to serve the public and bring meaning to your life, or are you simply waiting to retire?” Ko said, adding that this was what it meant to have corporate culture.

Establishing such a culture inside an organization is far more important than elaborating on such a policy, for such a culture would make one wish to work for you and is more important than any policy one could speak of, Ko said.

On Lien’s criticism that Ko’s call for an opposition coalition was nothing but political maneuvering, the doctor said that such comments highlighted Lien’s greatest problem.

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