Newspaper article China Post

Taipei Mayor-Elect Should Use His Honeymoon Wisely

Newspaper article China Post

Taipei Mayor-Elect Should Use His Honeymoon Wisely

Article excerpt

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When Ko Wen-je ([...]) defeated his Kuomintang (KMT) rival Sean Lien ([...]) by a wide margin of almost 250,000 votes, the pan-green independent Taipei mayoral candidate achieved what many only a year ago regarded as unthinkable. No pan-green candidate had ever taken over 50 percent of the votes in Taipei, which has long been a KMT stronghold, and Ko managed to score 57.16 percent.

In light of this, it is understandable if the mayor-elect might feel entitled to celebrate his success and let loose a little after a year of campaigning. And relax Ko did. Even before he begins work, the outspoken future mayor has started courting several controversies.

The press quoted Ko on Dec. 1, two days after the election, saying that his aim is to lead Taipei to "surpass Singapore in eight years." Ko was coy enough not to specify in which aspect he aims to surpass the financial hub and one of Asia's richest cities. In the economic terms that most people care about, Singapore enjoys GDP growth of 5.8 percent, a low unemployment rate of 1.9 percent and a per capita income of US$51,709 (all based on the latest figures). In other words, economy-wise Ko's making an even bigger promise then the now-ridiculed goal of 633 made by President Ma Ying-jeou in his 2008 presidential campaign (the number 663 refers to 6 percent growth, a maximum unemployment rate of 3 percent and per capita income of at least US$30,000). The BBC News Chinese website quoted Singapore political observer Lai Ah Keow as flatly characterizing Ko's goals as "overly optimistic."

On the same day, Ko reiterated in a radio interview his campaign promise to demolish a long unused bus lane on Zhongxiao West Road, vowing to take it down "in one night." The bus lane was built during the tenure of then Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou and has been left untouched ever since, despite the fact that it is never used. Some voters see the bus lane as a symbol of the current city government's failure to own up to poor planning policies (especially those of the incumbent president). The demolition of the bus lane is a move widely popular among young voters, Ko's core supporters, and Ko's promise is seen as an example of his ability to "get things done quickly. …

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