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.
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