Mon, Oct 09, 2017 - Page 3 News List

First KMT candidate confirmed for New Taipei City mayoral election primaries

By Lai Hsiao-tung, Tseng Wei-chen and Shih Hsiao-kuang  /  Staff reporters

Former Taipei County commissioner Chou Hsi-wei, center, attends a religious ceremony to welcome the Meizhou Matsu statue from China’s Fujian Province at the Second Stadium in New Taipei City’s Banciao District on Sept. 24.

Photo: Ho Yu-hua Taipei Times

Former Taipei county commissioner Chou Hsi-wei (周錫瑋) has become the first Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) member to throw his hat in the ring for next year’s New Taipei City mayoral election, starting a competition that could see a continuation of the party infighting that overshadowed last year’s presidential race.

Taipei County was in 2010 changed into a special municipality and renamed New Taipei City.

New Taipei City Councilor Lin Ching-chieh (林金結) of the KMT confirmed Chou’s intent to run for the mayoral seat, after a banner reading “Chou Hsi-wei, [make] New Taipei City the World’s Hub” went up near the Tucheng Interchange (土城) on Highway No. 3 on Saturday.

Lin, who hung the banner on behalf of a group of city councilors who support Chou’s candidacy, said the former county commissioner would officially announce his bid at an opportune time.

“Although no other KMT members have expressed an interest in running for New Taipei mayor next year, our party’s city councilors wanted to recommend a worthy candidate to the people,” Chou said, adding that Lin had consulted him before having the banner erected.

Chou served as a lawmaker for two terms before being elected as commissioner of then-Taipei County in 2005.

New Taipei City Deputy Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜), who was previously seen as the KMT’s most likely pick for the next mayoral race, told reporters that he welcomed anyone who is competent and willing to make a difference in the city to join next year’s election.

Meanwhile, there are speculations that former KMT chairwoman Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱), who has been making frequent visits to the city’s military dependents’ villages, could be another potential challenger.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Wu Ping-jui (吳秉叡), who also plans to run for New Taipei City mayor, said he was unclear about whether the former KMT chairwoman is also interested in the post, despite having run into her at several grassroots-level events in the city.

DPP Legislator Lin Chun-hsien (林俊憲) has said that Hung’s potential bid could be motivated by a desire for vengeance and could further increase uncertainty in the KMT’s primary election for the mayoral post.

“Hou is the left hand to New Taipei Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫), who orchestrated Hung’s ouster and replaced her as the KMT’s presidential candidate less than three months before the 2016 race,” Lin Chun-hsien said.

Lin Chun-hsien said that Chou is allied with KMT Chairman Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), who has made an all-out effort to diminish Hung’s influence within the KMT after winning the party chairmanship in May.

However, DPP Legislator Julian Kuo (郭正亮) said that cross-strait relations, rather than next year’s local elections, would likely be Hung’s choice of battlefield for revenge.

“Beijing apparently is not fond of Wu Den-yih, considering he has yet to be given a chance to meet with China’s Taiwan Affairs Office Minister Zhang Zhijun (張志軍) when KMT Vice Chairman Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) already has,” Kuo said.

Hung office spokesman Lee Chang-chi (李昶志) declined to comment on the speculations.

Additional reporting by Lee Hsin-fang

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