Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je’s (柯文哲) Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) was formally established on Tuesday last week. The date, Aug. 6, was chosen because it is Ko’s birthday and is also thought to be the birthday of Japanese colonial-era democracy pioneer Chiang Wei-shui (蔣渭水).
Ko reveres Chiang and knows that Taiwanese have great respect for him.
Chiang was a physician who was politically active, and the same is true of Ko, so Ko would like to be Chiang’s reincarnation. That is also why Ko’s new party has adopted the same name as the party that Chiang established in 1927, which was disbanded in 1931.
However, Ko has not gained the support of Chiang’s descendants. Grandson Chiang Chao-gen (蔣朝根) and great-granddaughter Chung Fa-lan (鍾法蘭) do not want Ko to use the name of his party.
Chung even said that Ko should “get lost and drop dead.”
She said that Ko should stop acting as if he were somehow related to Chiang Wei-shui and stop trying to take advantage of her great-grandfather.
That is why, at the party’s founding conference, Ko avoided any mention of Chiang Wei-shui for fear of stirring up further trouble. The carefully selected date was thus rendered partially meaningless and the party’s “opening move” was a failure.
Some of Ko’s relatives and close friends were present at the party’s founding conference, including his parents and his respected teacher, surgeon Chu Shu-hsun (朱樹勳).
Politicians in attendance included former Tainan County commissioner Su Huang-chih, and former legislators Hsu Hsin-ying (徐欣瑩) of Hsinchu County, Lisa Huang (黃文玲) of Changhua County and Chi Kuo-tung (紀國棟) from Taichung — none of whom are current major players. The absence of political big shots made the conference a bit of a let down.
Ko made his name as a “political novice” who took an “unconventional path,” but now that he has established his own party, everyone will judge him by conventional standards.
A founding conference should be a bustling celebration packed with dignitaries, but this one looked more like a convention of frustrated political has-beens and felt rather somber.
Even if the organizers were not looking for politicians to take part, they could have brought in some prominent figures from the world of art and literature like Cloud Gate Dance Theatre founder Lin Hwai-min (林懷民) or painter and writer Chiang Xun (蔣勳).
They could also have senior figures from the medical sector to take part, along with prominent businesspeople. This could have highlighted Ko’s wide range of connections that transcends political divides, but it did not work out that way.
Unsurprisingly, Ko was elected as chairman of the TPP. As to the party’s central committee, its members are Taipei Culture Foundation deputy chief executive Chang Yi-san (張益贍), who is a member of the Democratic Progressive Party; former Vibo Telecom chief executive officer George Chou (周鐘麒); South Taiwan Travel Industry Alliance general convener Frank Lin (林富男); and architect Wally Huang (黃胤為). None of these people are well-known to the public.
The party has a central review committee, whose elected members are National Taiwan University of Arts professor Weber Lai (賴祥蔚); Tsai Yi-lun (蔡易倫), who is secretary to Taipei City Government adviser and close Ko associate Tsai Pi-ru (蔡壁如); Hsinchu Science Park engineer Lai Chun-ming (賴俊銘); local cultural association chairman Lai Cheng-lung (賴正龍); and retired professor Yang Hsing-chang (楊行昌).