With eight days to go before the local elections on Saturday next week, the spotlight is on the Hsinchu City mayoral race involving three candidates: Lin Keng-jen (林耕仁) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), Ann Kao (高虹安) of the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) and Shen Hui-hung (沈慧虹) of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
Kao had a comfortable lead in the polls early in the race, followed by Shen and Lin.
However, Kao’s image and popularity crumbled after an avalanche of allegations over the past few months. She first had to defend herself against accusations that she had plagiarized two studies she had coauthored for her doctoral dissertation.
Later, she was accused of receiving wages from the government-linked Institute for Information Industry while studying for her doctorate in the US.
The tensions came to a head when a whistle-blower accused her of fraudulently collecting expenses for her legislative assistants and asking them to “donate” their overtime pay into a “provident fund.”
A leaked ledger showed that Kao spent the money on personal shopping.
Kao has denied any wrongdoing, while Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), who is the TPP’s chairman, spoke up for her by saying that “it is only human to make mistakes.”
The impact of the allegations has been reflected in Kao’s dropping poll numbers, as the accusations depict a corrupt, abusive and power-hungry politician as opposed to the fresh, crisp image that she had created for herself.
In a wider sense, Kao is the opposite of what the TPP says it stands for, as it has vowed to stamp out corruption, privilege and exploitation.
Kao was unapologetic for her elitist and condescending remarks against former Hsinchu mayor Lin Chih-chien (林智堅) and even belittled Lin Keng-jen by saying that his “winning chances are next to nil.”
In theory, no city would welcome a candidate like Kao.
However, Hsinchu has a tradition of supporting politicians not affiliated with the KMT or the DPP, making it a fertile ground for a third party like the TPP.
On a deeper level, the city has a soft spot for elites. As a large percentage of its residents are wealthy and successful — such as engineers working at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co — Kao’s experience might have reminded them of their former selves. This might explain why Kao resonated with Hsinchu residents.
Before his resignation, former Hsinchu mayor Lin Chih-chien was celebrated for introducing urban aesthetics to Hsinchu, such as by restoring the Hsinchu Public Library and the city’s zoo, and launching art festivals.
In contrast to Shen, who has an unadorned yet diligent image, Kao falls closer in line with Lin Chih-chien’s cosmopolitanism and urbanism in terms of image and vision.
Kao has had a great deal of luck by finding herself in a city like Hsinchu, where the DPP is still recovering from a plagiarism controversy involving Lin Chih-chien, and the KMT is fielding a candidate who is far too weak to be a force to be reckoned with.
It remains to be seen whether Kao has indeed run out of luck.
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has a good reason to avoid a split vote against the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in next month’s presidential election. It has been here before and last time things did not go well. Taiwan had its second direct presidential election in 2000 and the nation’s first ever transition of political power, with the KMT in opposition for the first time. Former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) was ushered in with less than 40 percent of the vote, only marginally ahead of James Soong (宋楚瑜), the candidate of the then-newly formed People First Party (PFP), who got almost 37
The three teams running in January’s presidential election were finally settled on Friday last week, but as the official race started, the vice-presidential candidates of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) have attracted more of the spotlight than the presidential candidates in the first week. After the two parties’ anticipated “blue-white alliance” dramatically broke up on the eve of the registration deadline, the KMT’s candidate, New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜), the next day announced Broadcasting Corp of China chairman Jaw Shaw-kong (趙少康) as his running mate, while TPP Chairman and presidential candidate Ko Wen-je
On Tuesday, Taiwan’s TAIEX stock index peaked at 17,360 points and closed at 17,341 points, surpassing Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index, which fell to 17,303 points and closed at 17,541 points. A few years ago, the gap between the Taiwanese and Hong Kong stock indices was more than 20,000 points, but this was before the 2019 anti-extradition protests. Hong Kong is one of the world’s most important financial centers, but many Chinese Internet users joke that it is only a ruin today. When asked by a legislative councilor whether he would communicate with social media platforms in the mainland to request
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate and New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜) has called on his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) counterpart, William Lai (賴清德), to abandon his party’s Taiwanese independence platform. Hou’s remarks follow an article published in the Nov. 30 issue of Foreign Affairs by three US-China relations academics: Bonnie Glaser, Jessica Chen Weiss and Thomas Christensen. They suggested that the US emphasize opposition to any unilateral changes in the “status quo” across the Taiwan Strait, and that if Lai wins the election, he should consider freezing the Taiwanese independence clause. The concept of de jure independence was first