Thu, Nov 15, 2018 - Page 3 News List

2018 ELECTIONS: Ko pans staff’s claims of recruited protesters

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je, center, holds a radish — an auspicious symbol — that a vendor gave him while he was campaigning for re-election at a traditional market in the Wenshan District yesterday.

Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) yesterday responded at a campaign event to reports that his staff claimed protesters showing up at his campaign events had been recruited.

Local media reported that members of Ko’s campaign team suspected that protesters that Ko faced at several of his campaign events — including an event in Wanhua District (萬華) last Friday evening, his visits in Wanhua on Tuesday and visits in Wenshan District (文山) yesterday — were recruited.

When asked about the protesters, Ko said: “Taiwan is a democratic, free, diverse and open society, so it is normal for people to want to protest. It would be strange if no one at all protested.”

Many city residents were upset when Ko implemented fees for roadside parking, but the money was used to build a green pedestrian lane and effectively improved safety, he said.

People might protest not having received Double Ninth Festival cash payments this year, as they did in the past, but that money is being used to care for the city’s elderly people and to improve the welfare system, he added.

During a radio interview yesterday, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei mayoral candidate Ting Shou-chung (丁守中) said the reason the protesters came to Ko’s campaign events was because he cut the city’s Double Ninth Festival cash payments to senior citizens.

The suspicion that the protestors were recruited was “ridiculous,” but senior citizens often ask him about the missing payments, Ting said.

Ko is used to blaming others when he is in a tight spot, such as calling his campaign team the “weakest election campaign team” and blaming former municipal administrators for the city’s problems, he added.

Ting repeated his suspicion about the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) pretending to support its mayoral candidate, Pasuya Yao (姚文智), while secretly urging their supporters to vote for Ko.

Ting said that after Yao vowed in April to bow out of politics forever if he finished third in the election, Ko must have instructed his wife, Peggy Chen (陳佩琪), to persuade voters through Facebook posts to turn from Yao to Ko.

Asked to comment on the rumor that the DPP was actually supporting him in the election, Ko said that he had not heard about it, but that he does the best he can every day and lets destiny decide the rest.

Yao has criticized Ko as being “more KMT than the KMT,” while Ting has claimed that Ko and the DPP are secretly plotting something, he added.

However, Ko said he does not want to waste much thought on a conspiracy, adding that his wife is an independent person and he cannot control what she posts on Facebook.

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