By Stacy Hsu / Staff reporter
President Tsai Ing-wen’s （蔡英文） schedule for handing out hongbao （紅包）, or lucky red envelopes for the Lunar New Year, yesterday renewed speculation about the Democratic Progressive Party’s （DPP） plans for next year’s Taipei mayoral election.
Tsai and a delegation of officials visited the Guandu Temple （關渡宮） in Taipei’s Beitou District （北投） in the morning, the first of six stops where the president planned to distribute red envelopes carrying a NT$1 coin to local residents to wish them an auspicious and prosperous year ahead.
Tsai was accompanied to the temple by Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je （柯文哲）, DPP Legislator Rosalia Wu （吳思瑤）, who represents Taipei’s Beitou and Shilin （士林） electoral district, and a number of DPP Taipei City councilors.
DPP Legislator Pasuya Yao （姚文智）, who represents Taipei’s Shilin and Datong （大同） district and has announced his intent to run for Taipei mayor next year, also showed up for the Guandu Temple visit, the first time Yao and Ko have appeared at the same event since Ko said last month that he intended to seek re-election.
Ko, an independent, said at the time that four years were not enough to change the Taipei City Government’s “corporate culture.”
The DPP’s decision not to run its own candidate in 2014 is believed to have played a decisive role in Ko’s victory over his rival, Chinese Nationalist Party （KMT） Central Committee member Sean Lien （連勝文）. Ko won by about 244,000 votes.
However, the physician-turned-politician’s dwindling approval ratings have given rise to calls that he should not seek re-election and should 拼布包包instead yield to a DPP candidate.
A survey published by the Chinese-language China Times Weekly magazine on Thursday showed Ko leading his potential challengers from across party lines.
Asked if they would vote for Ko next year, 24.2 percent of respondents said yes, compared with 3 percent who said they would support Yao.
In response to reporters’ questions about who she would endorse for the race, Tsai, who also serves as DPP chairperson, just laughed.
Asked if he thought he would be a better candidate than Ko, Yao said they were both better than any candidates the KMT would nominate.
Tsai also visited several temples around the nation on Saturday to ask for blessings from the gods and distribute red envelopes to local residents.