Opposition politicians failed to agree on a united approach to the January elections during a chaotic meeting that was broadcast live yesterday, ahead of the 5pm deadline for registration today.
In a last-ditch effort to revive faltering negotiations, Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) Chairman and presidential candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) invited the other opposition candidates, independent Terry Gou (郭台銘) and New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), to talks at the Grand Hyatt Taipei at 4:30pm.
Gou was the first to arrive in the venue, followed by Hou at 4:46pm, who was accompanied by KMT Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫) and former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), also of the KMT.
Photo: Carlos Garcia Rawlins, Reuters
Gou’s campaign said it had originally planned to hold closed talks between the three candidates on the 25th floor of the hotel, but the KMT insisted on live-streaming the discussion with Chu and Ma also present.
Ko and Gou entered late to the room, leaving the KMT members alone at a desk next to a digital clock counting down to the registration deadline at 5pm today.
The combative tone was set early, with spokesmen for Gou and the KMT trading barbs before the final two participants arrived.
Gou, who was appointed leader of the talks, said that if the discussions were still only between the KMT and the TPP, he would leave.
At one point, Hou brought out his phone to read text messages from Ko saying that Gou needed a reason to withdraw from the race.
Ko took issue with Hou reading their private messages, saying it is “something that only celebrities and their wingmen would do.”
Photo: Carlos Garcia Rawlins, Reuters
Hou responded that he read it with Ko’s permission, and he could have refused.
There was some discussion of the disagreement in polling analysis that stymied initial coalition talks last week, with Chu suggesting that the two sides discuss collaboration without dwelling on the dispute, as the polls consistently showed that a united opposition in any form would be victorious in January.
However, the participants did not reach an agreement during the 90-minute event and they at one point left for a break after Gou excused himself. He did not come back until the KMT delegation’s departure.
The meeting ended at the 6:30pm deadline with the KMT members leaving after Gou’s spokesman suggested that the party tried to manipulate polls from earlier in the year.
Gou and Ko stayed a few more minutes to speak with reporters, with Gou again expressing discontent at being relegated to a witness rather than participant, but adding that “the sun will rise again tomorrow.”
The KMT held its own news conference after the meeting, saying it would “wait until the last moment” and calling for a return to the original six agreements reached with the TPP on Wednesday last week.
However, according to a schedule posted by the TPP later in the evening, Ko is to go to the Central Election Commission at 11am today to register his candidacy, leaving doubt that an agreement would be reached before then.
The schedule did not mention who would be accompanying Ko to the office.
Additional reporting by Huang Ching-yi
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