Asia Pacific / Politics

Taipei mayor drops viral rap video in re-election bid

AFP-JIJI

Faced with an increasingly tight re-election race, Taiwan’s mayor has dropped a rap video that has quickly gone viral as he calls on voters to “do the right thing” and keep him in office.

Ko Wen-je, a former trauma surgeon turned social-media-savvy mayor of Taiwan’s capital, is locked in a heated race against Ting Shou-chung from the Kuomintang party. Some opinion polls show him leading by a mere 3 percentage points ahead of the Nov. 24 vote.

In a bid to stand out from his rival and win over some crucial youth voters, 59-year-old Ko has taken what is often a risky route for politicians: getting down with the kids through the medium of rap.

His bid appears to have paid off, with the video receiving a largely positive response from young Taiwanese, racking up 1.3 million views and storming to the top of the island’s most-watched YouTube chart in recent days.

In the video, a bespectacled Ko — sporting a shirt with a pen in the top pocket — channels his inner mumble rap star, repeating his well-known political mantra “do the right thing, do things right” over and over again while local rapper Chunyan spits out more complex rhymes alongside him.

“Don’t steal chickens or pet dogs/Build houses well,” raps Chunyan, referencing a Chinese idiom about not taking shortcuts.

Ko Yu-an, the social media director for the mayor’s campaign, said the video was squarely aimed at reaching out to younger voters.

“Rap music is a culture that young people are very fond of and we hope to convey our ideals to young people through this medium,” he said. “They’ve never seen a mayor do rap music and shoot a music video and the results are good.”

Ko Wen-je won the mayoralty as an independent candidate in a 2014 landslide and has built himself a reputation for being something of a maverick with an especially effective social media presence.

He is often known by his nickname “Ko P” — the P being a reference to the fact that he was once a medical professor.

Many young Taiwanese voters said they liked his latest musical venture.

“Mayor Ko has been using the internet to closely interact with young people. His way of doing things is close to us. We like that,” said Crystal Lee, a 35-year-old office worker who had shared the video on social media and with her friends.

“I think (the video) is Ko’s style and it attracts people to watch as it gives off a young and vibrant vibe,” added restaurant worker Lee Yao-hung, 34. “It’s funny and it’s not an old-school way of promotion.”