National Taiwan University Hospital physician Ko Wen-je’s (柯文哲) comments about the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) have intensified an already fierce battle over the party’s primary for the Taipei mayoral election next year.
Ko — who is not a DPP member and has been mulling whether to enter the race — on Saturday cited Confucius’ Analects (論語) in describing the DPP as a “chaotic and dangerous country,” which was why he has been hesitant about joining.
Competition between DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and former DPP chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), both of whom were interested in running in the next presidential election in 2016, has also jeopardized the DPP’s development, the self-proclaimed Taiwan independence supporter said.
His comments have drawn wide criticism, including from Su, who yesterday said that Ko’s comments “would likely serve enemy interests and sadden friends.”
Several DPP members said that if Ko was serious about being a candidate who represented the pan-green camp, then he should first join the DPP.
The DPP has been divided as to whether to include Ko in the party primary or to directly recruit him as the final candidate.
At least three members have expressed interest in party nomination, including former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), lawyer Wellington Koo (顧立雄) and DPP Legislator Hsu Tain-tsair (許添財), but Ko is currently leading in most polls.
The DPP’s primary regulation for the mayoral and commissioner elections next year authorizes the party chairman to conduct negotations before the primary goes to a public opinion poll.
Koo said the party politics system is widely recognized in Taiwan, which was why it would be difficult to run in any election as an independent.
Lu, one of the most vocal opponents of Ko’s recruitment as a non-member, rejected Ko’s remarks that described the DPP as a party with “two suns,” which refers to Su and Tsai — saying that the term was a media fabrication and the power struggle inside the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) was far worse than the DPP’s.
Ko tried to downplay his comments yesterday, telling reporters that he “only told the truth and said what most DPP members thought about, but dared not speak.”
However, he then created more controversy by proposing that those who aspired to run for presidency withdraw from the chairperson election in May next year and for the DPP to increase the chairperson’s tenure from two to three years.
“Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) won the presidential election in 2000 because he was able to focus on the campaigning, with then-DPP chairman Lin Yi-hsiung (林義雄) handling party affairs,” Ko said.
In related news, DPP Legislator Chao Tien-lin (趙天麟) said on Facebook yesterday that the DPP should not make nomination in the Taipei mayoral election next year, but persuade and support Chen Hsin-hung (陳信宏), vocalist of the popular band May Day (五月天), to run as an independent.