Underground gamblers call even race between Taipei mayoral hopefuls

Underground gamblers call even race between Taipei mayoral hopefuls
Sean Lien and his wife Patty Tsai.

AIPEI, Taiwan - As the Election Day on Nov 29 draws near, underground gambling became heated, with gamblers swarming to place bets on the Taipei mayoral election. According to local media, Lien's struggles to keep the upper hand in the mayoral election surprisingly heated up underground gambling circles.

At first underground gambling operations speculated that Lien would win the election, as many gamblers bet on Lien defeating Ko with about a 100,000-vote lead. If Lien comes out of the election winning more than 100,000 votes compared to Ko, these gamblers will profit from their bets.

As several opinion polls showed that Lien's popularity was gradually dropping though, these underground operations started to adjust their odds by speculating that Lien would be elected by a margin of 50,000 votes, then 20,000, and finally 10,000. Local media reported that after the televised mayoral debate, the odds are 1:1 between Lien and Ko in Taipei mayoral election gambling.

Bookkeepers are being cautious as they release the equal odds, since a large number of Taipei citizens favour the KMT over the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), despite the pan-green Ko's triumph in the recent opinion polls. According to local reports, gamblers are holding back to evaluate the situation before placing more bets. Betting will probably reach another peak right before the Election Day.

As the nine-in-one elections approach, all kinds of gambling games were launched, including the most popular election gambles on the six major cities' election outcomes, the sum of votes placed on the KMT and DPP and whether the KMT or the DPP will make up more than half of the newly elected mayors and magistrates of the six cities.

Police said that election gambles may influence voters while selecting a candidate to vote for, adding that they will endeavour to investigate the underground gambling operations.

According to the police, bookkeepers could face more than three years and less than ten years in prison for their business. and Kuomintang (KMT) candidate Sean Lien, according to local media reports in Taipei yesterday.

KMT Fighting to Regain Support

The KMT's Huang Fu-Hsing Division recently tried to solicit the votes of retired officers who used to be firm supporters of the KMT, in an attempt to secure the position of Taipei City mayor for Lien, according to media reports.

In order to pacify the retired officers and their family, President Ma Ying-jeou said that he may reinstate the cancelled Year-end Relief Payment for the officers and raise the payment amount to NT$25,000 (S$1,055).

Ko Pledges Open Selection of Department of Education Head

Ko promised to openly select the head of Taipei's Department of Education, announcing selection committee members the regulations they would stick to while picking a department head.

The convener of the committee, Tseng Hsien-cheng, said that possible candidates for the department head may nominate themselves or be nominated by others. Tseng said that it is not necessary for the candidates to know that they are nominated, adding that people who did not nominate themselves will not know that they are on the list.

Tseng noted that the future head of the education department will be totally severed from politics, saying that if "the future head belongs to a political party, he or she has to withdraw from the party."

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