Colorful characters emerged from the woodwork as Taipei City councilor candidates were given free airtime by a cable television network.
The speeches by candidates in the Shilin (士林) and Beitou (北投) electoral district on Kbro (凱擘有線電視) were the first in a series of opportunities for all candidates from different districts to air their views.
Aside from Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidates, numerous small party and independent candidates were invited and all who accepted were allotted 15 minutes of airtime.
While the network’s broadcast was set to begin with remarks from Taipei City Councilor Lin Ruei-tou (林瑞圖), an independent who is running for re-election, coverage got off to an shaky start when Lin failed to show up, with the camera repeatedly panning to an empty microphone, while the host announced his name three times before moving on to the next candidate.
Low viewership made free airtime an inadequate incentive for most major parties’ candidates, with the district’s KMT councilors who are running for re-election rejecting the network’s invitation outright, and less than half of the DPP candidates participating.
Remaining were an assortment of mostly small-party and independent candidates starved of media attention, seeking to use their free airtime to set themselves apart.
Beyond expressing support for a wide variety of local development projects, some candidates tried gimmicks, with independent candidate Sun Shih-chien (孫士堅) the leading attraction.
Sun paired a campaign polo shirt with a full set of cowboy accessories, complete with two LED running lights pasted onto his five-gallon hat.
Meanwhile, Taipei City Councilor Lai Su-ju (賴素如), who is running for re-election as an independent, used her airtime to protest her innocence in the Taipei Twin Towers bribery scandal.
Formerly of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), Lai’s party privileges were suspended due to her involvement in the scandal, for which she was sentenced to 10 years in prison last month.
She said that people should be considered innocent until the conclusion of the appeal process.
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