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Cablegate: Vanquished Kmt Kaohsiung Mayoral Candidate Plugs Kmt-Led

VZCZCXRO3858
RR RUEHCN RUEHGH
DE RUEHIN #0670/01 1350922
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 140922Z MAY 08
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8924
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 8269
RUEHGH/AMCONSUL SHANGHAI 2059
RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU 2675
RUEHSH/AMCONSUL SHENYANG 6642
RUEHGZ/AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU 1244
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 9512

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TAIPEI 000670

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR AIT/W, EAP/TC, INR/EAP

FROM AIT KAOHSIUNG BRANCH OFFICE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV TW
SUBJECT: VANQUISHED KMT KAOHSIUNG MAYORAL CANDIDATE PLUGS KMT-LED
CITY REVIVAL

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED, PLEASE PROTECT ACCORDINGLY

(SBU) Summary: In his May 1 meeting with DDIR, twice-defeated KMT
Kaohsiung mayoral candidate Huang Chun-ying said he had urged
President-elect Ma to fulfill his economic pledges to Kaohsiung and
recommended that the KMT put forward "clean" candidates for upcoming
2009 local races. He decried the DPP central government's failure
to improve substantially Taiwan's north-south economic imbalance and
underscored his hope that city officials would improve Kaohsiung's
readiness to take advantage of direct cross-strait links.
Downplaying the potential of proposed casinos in southern Taiwan,
Huang suggested the focus should instead be on existing city
projects. Huang is optimistic about the KMT's prospects in
Kaohsiung's key 2010 mayoral race; if Ma's economic policies bring
signs of a reviving local economy, Huang believes a majority of
Kaohsiung voters will reward a competent KMT candidate with the
mayoral seat the KMT last held a decade ago. End Summary.

Candidate Huang: Winning Some Vindication in 2008
--------------------------------------------- ----

2. (SBU) During his May 1 visit to Kaohsiung, DDIR Wang met with
Huang Chun-Ying, a long-time KMT stalwart who was narrowly defeated
in the last two hotly-contested Kaohsiung mayoral races. After
losing a drawn-out legal battle last fall to overturn the disputed
results of the most recent mayoral election, Huang returned to his
post as professor at I-Shou University on the outskirts of
Kaohsiung. During the 2008 election season, Huang campaigned
actively for the KMT in Kaohsiung and gained a measure of
vindication when the KMT captured three of five Kaohsiung seats in
the January 2008 Legislative Yuan (LY) election and Ma Ying-Jeou
surprisingly beat former Kaohsiung Mayor Frank Hsieh in Kaohsiung in
the March 2008 Presidential election. While attending to his I-Shou
University teaching duties, Huang is now also advising his local KMT
colleagues on economic planning, both for Kaohsiung City and
surrounding Kaohsiung County.

Professor Huang: Setting Stage for 2009 KMT Campaign
--------------------------------------------- -------

3. (SBU) In his meeting with DDIR, Huang gave Ma's proposed cabinet
high marks, particularly Economic Affairs Minister-designate Yin
Chi-ming. Pointing out that he and Yin knew each other well (Huang
had approved Yin's doctoral thesis), Huang was confident Yin would
seriously consider Huang's suggestions for Kaohsiung's economic
development. While some local KMT supporters complained that Ma's
cabinet did not include anyone from Kaohsiung, Huang said he
counseled them not to pressure Ma on this point. Ma should have the
scope to build a team that would be ready to work together right
away. Huang reiterated that he had no personal ambitions in this
regard; his main priority was to find the best channel to advise Ma
about Kaohsiung's economic problems and to encourage Ma to fulfill
his economic pledges to the city.

4. (SBU) On the local political scene, Huang stated that the KMT's
next major goal was to win the Kaohsiung and Tainan County
magistrate slots as well as the Tainan City mayoral position in the
2009 "3-in-1" elections. Current Kaohsiung County Speaker Hsu
Fu-sen had expressed an interest in running for Kaohsiung County
magistrate, Huang mentioned, but his image may not be clean enough.
KMT Central Policy Committee Director and current Legislative Yuan
member Lin Yi-shih might also run for that magistrate slot to avenge
his 2005 loss to DPP incumbent Magistrate Yang Chiu-hsing, who has
now reached his two-term limit. The KMT's bottom line should be to
promote candidates with a clean image, Huang reiterated, since those
candidates had the best potential to win.

Economist Huang: Assessing Impact of Direct Links
--------------------------------------------- ----

5. (SBU) Huang lamented that Kaohsiung's economy had remained
stagnant over the last eight years. He said he had urged
President-elect Ma to make improving the city's economy a high
priority, given Kaohsiung's strategic location and Kaohsiung
Harbor's importance to Taiwan's economy. Despite the DPP's claim
that it could better cater to southern Taiwan's interests, Huang
argued, the DPP central government had not committed sufficient
resources to correcting the north-south economic imbalance.

6. (SBU) Huang predicted that direct cross-strait links would

TAIPEI 00000670 002 OF 002


impact Kaohsiung immediately because of its developed harbor and
airport. He welcomed the prospect of more Chinese mainland tourists
in Kaohsiung but questioned whether the city was prepared for the
influx. Furthermore, the city needed to upgrade its tourist
attractions to keep tourists in the city longer. Cruising on the
refurbished Love River was pleasant enough but hardly enough to
convince tourists to remain for several days and spend money.

Businessman Huang: Hoping for More Investment in City
--------------------------------------------- --------

7. (SBU) Asked about building casinos in Taiwan to attract
tourists, Huang replied that Taiwan may have already missed its
chance with the gaming industry in nearby Macau expanding so
rapidly. Nevertheless, Taiwan's offshore Penghu Isles had
positioned itself as a likely initial venue for casinos, since polls
suggested that a strong majority of Penghu's residents were in favor
of them. Downplaying the potential of casinos in Taiwan, Huang
suggested that Taiwan take advantage of its sophisticated medical
technology and focus instead on medical-related tourism.

8. (SBU) Huang praised Ma's initiative to persuade Foxconn (Hon
Hai) Technology Group Chairman Terry Gou to invest in the fledgling
Kaohsiung Software Park. Huang mentioned that he had previously
proposed such an investment to Ma as a means of boosting Kaohsiung's
economy and that he would personally work to bring the project to
fruition. He also highlighted his interest in ensuring the success
of Kaohsiung's newly-opened Dream Mall, currently Taiwan's largest
shopping mall. Noting that Japanese and UK anchor stores had a big
presence in Dream Mall, Huang hoped U.S. businesses could set up
anchor stores in the mall. U.S. companies like Costco were very
successful in Kaohsiung, he stressed, and there was excellent
potential for similar ventures in the city, given the close
people-to-people ties between the U.S. and Taiwan.

9. (SBU) Huang worried that Kaohsiung City Mayor Chen Chu was not
properly coordinating the city's preparations for the 2009 World
Games. She was still shuffling key personnel in her city
government, he stated, and Kaohsiung Organizing Committee (KOC) CEO
Cheng Chi had just resigned. Huang suggested that the Central
Government intervene to ensure that the 2009 World Games succeeded
and Taiwan did not lose face. Later, during a luncheon for DDIR,
I-Shou President Fu Shen-li reiterated Huang's concerns, explaining
that Cheng Chi's resignation reflected the KOC's lack of qualified
staff and inadequate support from the city.

Comment
-------

10. (SBU) Although boasting a long resume of government service,
Huang is an academic at heart, and after coming up short in two
bruising battles for Kaohsiung mayor, he has expressed no qualms
about returning to his old professorial perch at I-Shou University.
At 64 years old, Huang is unlikely to make another run for mayor in
two years' time, but he believes that the KMT is poised nonetheless
to recapture Kaohsiung's mayoral seat in 2010 after a 12-year
hiatus. If Ma's proposed "10 New Major Construction Projects for
Kaohsiung" as well as direct cross-strait links begin bearing fruit
for the city, Huang is confident that local voters will associate
those gains with the KMT. In Huang's view, if the KMT then puts
forward a mayoral candidate with a clean reputation, that candidate
will best be able to persuade local voters that KMT good governance
and not DPP ideology is the best tonic for the city's economic woes.
End comment.

CASTRO

YOUNG

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