Two charismatic politicians from the pan-blue and pan-green camps, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安) and Enoch Wu (吳怡農), deputy chief executive of the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) New Frontier Foundation, recently tried to gain some media exposure. Chiang focused on the Transitional Justice Commission and related legislation, while Wu announced his bid for the position of director of the DPP’s Taipei Chapter and talked about his plans on a radio talk show.
The two gained the attention of the media when they competed for the same electoral district in Taipei in last year’s legislative election. The focus is now on whether they will compete again in next year’s Taipei mayoral election.
Both are being strategic and positioning themselves for battle. Everyone will just have to sit back and wait to see what their next moves will be.
Chiang has pushed for amendment of the Act Governing the Recovery of Damage of Individual Rights During the Period of Martial Law (戒嚴時期人民受損權利回復條例), calling for the return of all private property inappropriately seized during the authoritarian era.
The pan-green camp blames Chiang’s grandfather Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) and great-grandfather Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) for the Martial Law era and the KMT’s authoritarian rule, using them as a “political ATM” to gain votes. This has become the “original sin” that the younger Chiang, a fourth-generation politician, cannot seem to avoid.
However, Chiang has decided to face what appears to be his Achilles’ heel head-on, displaying courage by confronting the wounds of history. Setting a new direction for the KMT’s campaign strategy is also likely to benefit a mayoral bid.
As for Wu, he finally announced his highly anticipated bid. In addition to highlighting his personal ambition, the bid also implies that the party plans a systematic attempt to build sustainable rule, while portraying Wu, who is in his 40s, as the brightest political star among the green camp’s younger generation.
Although Wu was defeated by Chiang in the legislative election, it was a glorious defeat, as he successfully consolidated the DPP’s support base.
After Wu announced his bid, his political momentum has continued to build quietly, as the media’s coverage of him has been as massive as it is during a local government head election. Considering Wu has never served as an elected representative, he might do better to keep a low profile and continue to build a good reputation rather than strive to be the DPP’s nomination for the Taipei mayoral election.
Despite Wu’s strategic considerations and political ambitions, he faces a few risks.
First, the outside world mostly believes that his bid for Taipei Chapter director is largely endorsed by the DPP leadership, which allegedly pressured former Taipei city councilor Yen Sheng-kuan (顏聖冠) to withdraw from the race to pave the way for Wu. This could hurt his image.
Next, he has also pledged to skip the Taipei mayoral election next year to focus on the legislative election in 2024.
The problem is that the political situation is ever-changing. If the DPP leadership insists on appointing him to run for Taipei mayor, he will be breaking his own pledge.
Although Chiang and Wu are today’s media darlings, if they go head-to-head in the Taipei mayoral election next year, Chiang, who is facing fewer risks than Wu, will be in a slightly better position.
Niu Tse-hsun is a professor at Chinese Culture University’s Department of Advertising.
Translated by Eddy Chang
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