Fri, Nov 12, 1999 - Page 1 News List

Soong chooses `non-political' doctor as his running mate

ELECTIONS Although a variety of responses have resulted from Soong's choice, he feels Chang Chao-hsiung perfectly emphasizes his non-partisan approach

By Lauren Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

James Soong, center, announces Chang Chao-hsiung, president of Chang Gung University, left, as his vice-presidential running mate at a news conference yesterday.

PHOTO: CHEN CHENG-CHANG, TAIPEI TIMES

Following a week-long guessing game, independent presidential candidate James Soong (宋楚瑜) yesterday announced that he had chosen Chang Gung University President Chang Chao-hsiung (張昭雄) as his vice-presidential running mate.

Speaking at a packed press conference, Soong highly commended Chang for his spirit of caring about Taiwanese society, as well as his medical expertise, outstanding management skills and a macroscopic perspective in scientific circles.

"The question of political party affiliation was the only question I have never asked Chang," Soong said, stressing the non-partisan consultation process for his choice.

Soong admitted he had already begun to search for an appropriate running-mate sometime between May and June.

"A suitable candidate must match expectations of my political ideas respecting team-work consciousness," Soong said.

Nevertheless, he said, his ideas have had to confront a backlash with reality, due to electoral considerations of winning the presidential race.

"I have had to take regional, party and ethnic background into account," Soong said.

Chang is a specialist in cardiac surgery, a native Kaohsiung City resident and a son-in law of former Tainan City Mayor Hsin Wen-ping (辛?戭? -- who was campaign manager for Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) and Lien Chan (3s戰) in the 1996 presidential election.

When asked if he could draw on his surgical skills in politics, Chang replied: "I believe that under an environment of teamwork, I can come up to speed quickly. After the presidential voting next March 18, there should be no doubts anymore as to my ability."

Citing the words of Formosa Plastics Group chairman Wang Yung-ching (?y揖羹y) -- Chang's nominal boss as the chief investor in the private Chang Gung University, Chang said, "although I am not familiar with politics, it is crucial to our daily lives. I have a lot in common with Soong, including his never-give-up mentality, placing Taiwan's security and happiness as his first priority, emphasizing a regional balance between northern and southern Taiwan and a belief in non-partisan government," Chang said.

Chang Chao-hsiung

1942: Born in 1942, in Kaohsiung City

1967: Graduated from National Taiwan University

1971: Studied and practised advanced cardiac surgery in Houston, Texas

1976: Returned to Taiwan, taking up post as cardiological surgery department director at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, built by FPG chairman Wang Yung-ching.

1997: Became president of Chang Gung University, after being formally upgraded from a medical college.


Chang said he had personally delivered his decision to Wang Wednesday night. "Wang was apparently astonished by my move -- he kept silent for several moments, and then advised me to be prepared to make sacrifices for the island."

His comments, however, produced stern denials from officials at Formosa Plastics.

FPG general manager Wang Yung-tsai (?y揖牘b), -- Wang Yung-ching's brother -- said yesterday his brother "was very unhappy about Chang's announcement. Our company has never gotten involved in politics, and if Chang is determined to take part in the impending presidential campaign, he has no other alternative but to resign his post at Chang Gung immediately."

Meanwhile, Vice President Lien Chan(3s戰), the KMT's presidential candidate, appeared reluctant yesterday to comment on the rival combination.

"In democracies, it is normal for a presidential candidate to choose his running-mate -- it is not worth any particular attention," said Lien Chan's spokesman, Ting Yuan-chao (?B遠超).

Critics, meanwhile, said compared with the other two tickets -- the KMT's Lien-Siew pairing and DPP's pairing of Chen Shui-bian (3?糮?/CHINESE>) and Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), Soong and Chang as a pair had the potential to further boost Soong's popularity.

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