Local media are reporting that once and future presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou is mulling relocation to southern Taiwan:

The ex-mayor made the disclosure following Chinese-language newspaper China Times’ report yesterday that he plans to move to Kaohsiung soon in order to seek more support from voters in the south.

The report disclosed that Ma has planned to move to Kaohsiung in May or June to intensify his presidential campaign activities in southern counties, where candidates from pro-independence parties including the governing Democratic Progressive Party and Taiwan Solidarity Union have dominated major elections in the past.

The report continued that a pan-blue supporter has offered the ex-Kuomintang chairman a residence in downtown Kaohsiung as Ma’s temporary accommodation during the presidential campaign. The landlord hopes Ma will improve his understanding and relations with the southern electorate during the temporary stay.

The report quoted an anonymous source in the end, however, that Ma and his supporters would decline to comment on plans at the moment, as the ex-mayor has not yet been formally selected as the KMT presidential candidate.

Ma announced to run for the 2008 presidential race on February 13, hours after Taipei prosecutors indicted him on charges of corruption resulting from his handling of a special fund.

The report came two weeks after Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), who is also seen by the public as a potential KMT presidential nominee, made a comment that “People of central and southern Taiwan have told me that they will not vote in favor of a China-originated candidate” in the presidential election.

The Legislative Yuan leader explained that he made the remark as a warning to KMT members to watch out for the governing Democratic Progressive Party opponents’ manipulation of an ethnic controversy, referring to a potential and protracted conflict of different ideologies and national identity between native Taiwanese and China-originated residents on the island. Wang, speaking during a magazine interview, cautioned that the ethnic issue would dominate the presidential campaign next year, according to his observation.

It is curious how each party is performing the mirror operation of the other: the KMT is trying to see how its strength at the local level can be transformed into national level success, while the DPP has not yet managed to parlay its powerful hand at the national level into local level success. It will be interesting to see whether he makes this move — the action is in Taipei, and that’s where his base of Deep Blues is.