On Friday November 7th, the top two candidates for Taipei mayor went on TV for their first televised debate. The two candidates, KMT’s Sean Lien and independent Ko Wen-je, delivered opening and closing speeches, as well as answered questions from civil groups.
During the debate, both sides spoke to hot button issues in Taiwan today, including nuclear power and food safety. Both candidates agreed that the oldest nuclear power plant should be retired as soon as possible, and be replaced by renewable energy sources.
One civic group representative’s question was later considered to be controversial. The president of the Taiwan Competitiveness Forum Peng Jin-peng (彭錦鵬), who was nominated by the Lien camp, asked Lien why he plans to forgo the mayor’s salary, while he asked Ko about a research fund he set up, and “can someone who is a criminal like you be a good mayor.”
Sean Lien is the son of former Vice President and honorary KMT Chairman Lien Chan, and Ko is a trauma surgeon at the National Taiwan University Hospital. Ko is not officially nominated by the opposition DPP, but is considered the opposition candidate.
Another independent mayoral candidate Feng Guang-yuan (馮光遠), a columnist and social activist, was not invited to the debate. He recently served a 20-day jail sentence for defaming a KMT cultural minister. Feng is favored by younger voters who perceive Ko to be too close to the KMT’s mainstream values and disapprove of Ko’s gender remarks and elitism.
Over the weekend, Ko’s chief of staff has also predicted Ko to win by a 12% margin. However, other observers remain conservative, as the KMT has consistently had 55% of Taipei voter support. After the debate, voters overwhelmingly agreed Ko was the winner, with Sanlih TV, the broadcaster of the debate, showing 98.66% in favor of Ko. Yahoo had a survey that showed 81% in favor of Ko
One of the most famous televised debates in Taiwan’s history was the 1994 debate between Taipei mayor candidates Chen Shui-bian and Zhao Shaokang (趙少康). Nominated by the DPP and the New Party respectively, it was a battle between a sharp tongued native Taiwanese lawyer on one side, and a young charismatic mainlander elite on the other.
That televised debate, one of the first in Taiwan’s history, reached 45.5% ratings at its peak. Chen Shui-bian won the election with 43.67% of the vote, while Zhao earned 30.17%, beating the KMT’s candidate by 4 percentage points.
The Taipei city election, as well as the election for all local level positions, is on November 29th, less than three weeks away.
Full Taipei City Mayor 2014 Debate:
Full Taipei City Mayor 1994 Debate:
(Feature photo of Ko Wen-je, by othree on Flickr, CC BY 2.0)