Interview: Ko Wen-je, Mayor of Taipei

24th April 2018

Why did you become mayor?

Life is full of surprises.

What is your favourite part of the job?

Allowing people to live a happy life and transforming Taipei into a liveable and sustainable city.

What has been your biggest success?

My political belief is accumulating minor success into major success. There’s no so-called ‘greatest success’.

What has been your biggest setback?

Regardless of success or failure, they’re all a part of life. That’s why I don’t get upset by setbacks.

What surprises you most in this day and age?

For me, no matter the success or failure, it is all part of daily life. Just like this quote from the Diamond Sutra: “All things contrived are like a dream, an illusion, a bubble, a shadow; and as a dewdrop or lightning, they should be regarded as such.”

What are you reading right now?

I’m currently reading the Diamond Sutra. It’s a classical Buddhist scripture.

Are you an early bird or a night owl?

I wake up early every day because there’s the morning briefing at 7.30am. That’s when work begins for the day.

Who is your hero or inspiration?

Chiang Wei-shui [founder of the Taiwanese Cultural Association and the Taiwanese People’s Party]. He’s truly a hero worthy of respect.

What was your last overseas trip as mayor?

I led a delegation on an official visit to Europe between the end of January and early February this year. We travelled to four countries, including the Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, and Turkey. I also gave a speech at the European Parliament, which I believe is a major breakthrough for city diplomacy.

Who is the most interesting person you have met or worked with since becoming mayor?

After I started working at City Hall, there was a time when we were discussing the plans for the Taipei Lantern Festival. I remember a lady who was a section chief at the Department of Information and Tourism who proactively talked about innovation. She proposed holding the lantern festival event at the North Gate and Ximending. Afterwards, with help from everyone, the lantern festival became quite distinct from past events, leaving a major impression on our citizens. This innovative public servant is one of the people I recall rather clearly.

What’s one thing your colleagues wouldn’t ordinarily know about you?

My life is very transparent. Every day I have a meeting at 7.30 in the morning. I work all the way until late at night. It’s the same routine for me, whether as a doctor or as a mayor.

Favourite place in your city and why?

Yangmingshan. It offers a great view of Taipei’s skyline, as well as hot springs and a scenic landscape.

What advice would you give to the first time visitor to your city?

Taipei is a friendly, diverse, and free city. Enjoy Taipei while you’re here, and remember to do some shopping.

Hsinchu, Taiwan

National Taiwan University of Medicine, Institute of Clinical Medicine Ph.D.

29 November, 2014

National Taiwan University Hospital, Director of Trauma Medicine
National Taiwan University of Medicine, Professor

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