Fri, May 26, 2000 - Page 1 News List

Lin I-hsiung expected to quit post as DPP chairman today

OLD GUARD A lackluster start turned into a highly successful two years as party leader, culminating in Chen Shui-bian's election victory in March

By Hung Chen-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Lin I-hsiung (林義雄) is today expected to bow out from the political spotlight and give up his post as chairman of the DPP, party colleagues said yesterday.

"Since he has accomplished his goal of taking up the reins of the government and marginalizing the National Assembly, there is no other goal for him to struggle for [if he stays] in the position," said Lee Wang-tai (李旺台), the DPP's acting secretary-general.

"We all feel that Lin wants to leave at a good time," said Wu Nai-jen (吳乃仁), a DPP Central Standing Committee member. "Since we can not find any reason to detain him, we can not bear to force him to stay in office."

Lin entered the political stage as the DPP's chairman in 1998. However, it "was so hard in the beginning for him because he seemed not to mix well in the political pot," said Chen Chun-lin (陳俊麟), head of the DPP's Survey Center. "Lin is more of an activist than a politician so we can not judge him by political logic."

Unlike former chairman Hsu Hsin-liang (許信良), who was known for his quick thinking and speaking, Lin is more cautious and silent.

However, these characteristics helped Lin lead the party to victory in the election and smooth conflicts between party factions.

The nomination of Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) to fun for president is one such example, Lee Wang-tai said.

When the DPP planned to nominate Chen Shui-bian as the party's presidential candidate, there was a problem regarding nomination regulations, Lee said.

Party regulations forbid candidates like Chen from running in another crucial election within four years of leaving a post. Chen lost the Taipei City Mayoral elections at the end of 1998.

"But, because Chen was the best DPP candidate for the public, Lin gathered faction leaders to draw up a specific clause for the 2000 election to fit Chen's case," Lee said.

The election result proved Lin's judgement was right.

"Lin's ability to coordinate DPP factions originated from his prestige and his selflessness. Therefore, everyone must listen to him even if they disagree with him," Wu Nai-jen said.

Lee, who worked with Lin for almost two years at the DPP headquarters said, "Lin always sets a spiritual goal to lead him forward."

Lin, born in 1941, began his political career in 1977 as an Ilan county councilor. Two years later came the Kaohsiung Incident (美麗島事件) -- where Lin was arrested and accused by the KMT government along with his partners of being part of the the so-called "tang wai" movement (黨外, meaning people outside the KMT).

President Chen Sui-bian was one of their defense counsels.

The "Lin Family Murders" (林宅血案), in which Lin's mother and twin daughters were killed, occurred one year after the Kaohsiung Incident, transforming Lin's life forever.

"Lin suffered most among those who were involved in the Incident. But he is a rarity because he is free of enmity, unlike others among the Formosa generation," Wu said.

Lin's experiences and practices brought him praise. Some people even considered him "a Puritan."

But, by contrast, his lifestyle is not exactly that of a puritan, friends say, pointing out Lin's love of smoking, drinking and playing mah-jong.

Chen Chun-lin said that at one time he planned to quit his leading position -- after a failure in the legislative election in 1998 -- and his friends played Mah-jong with him to comfort him.

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