Mayor Chen not running for DPP chairmanship

Taipei, 25 February 1998

Taipei Mayor Chen Shui-bian announced on Wednesday, 25 February, that he will not be a candidate in the upcoming election for DPP chairman in June 1998. Earlier, it had been reported that he was trying to decide between the DPP chairmanship and his present position as Taipei mayor. Either position would be a good stepping stone for a race for the Taiwan presidency in March 2000.

Chen's decision means that within the next few months he will announce his candidacy as incumbent for the Taipei mayor position. These elections are scheduled for the end of 1998, concurrent with elections for the Legislative Yuan. The Kuomintang is likely to run a strong challenger for the job. The two candidates mentioned most often are former justice minister Mr. Ma Ying-jeou, and present Taiwan "Provincial governor" James Soong, who is losing his job, because the Kuomintang and DPP agreed to phase out the provincial level of government.

Chen's decision also means that others within the DPP can now run for the chairmanship position. The two most prominent candidates are former Ilan County Magistrate Chen Ting-nan, who in December 1994 made an unsuccessful run for the Taiwan governorship, and lawyer Lin Yi-hsiung, a former political prisoner, who ran as a candidate in the DPP primaries for the Presidential elections in March 1996.

Mr. Lin is one of Taiwan's most prominent opposition figures. He became well-known in the late 1970s, when as a young lawyer he became member of the Taiwan Provincial Assembly, and was one of the first people to speak out against the Kuomintang's corruption and repression under its Martial Law, which wasn't lifted until 1987.

His life took a tragic turn in the aftermath of the Kaohsiung Incident of 1979, when he was arrested, and on 28 February 1980 -- while he was in prison -- his mother and twin-daughters were murdered in their home in downtown Taipei, while the house was under surveillance by the secret police. A third daughter was injured severely from knife stabbings, but survived. The Kuomintang authorities never solved the murder although there were strong indications of involvement by the secret police.

After "Kaohsiung", Mr. Lin was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment, but was released after four-and-a-half years due to strong international pressure. After his release he has dedicated himself to improvement of Taiwan's social structure and enhancement of the Taiwanese cultural identity, instead of the Chinese identity, which has been emphasized by the mainlander-dominated Kuomintang authorities.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Back to: News and Current Events