Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) yesterday tearfully recollected the hardships she endured during Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) rule and her term as the vice president, saying that none of her male contenders in the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) primary had suffered as much.
Lu, who is vying for the DPP's nomination for next year's presidential election, said she suffered many privations after she and President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) won the presidential election in 2000 because people were not used to having a female vice president.
After they won re-election in 2004, Lu said many people within the party coveted her position and tried to drive her out of office by teaming up with the media to engage in a smear campaign against her.
"It feels as if it was a mistake that I was elected to the position. It does not have much power and all a vice president can do is to be loyal to the president," she said, with tears running down her cheeks. She made the remarks while addressing the inauguration ceremony of one of her support groups in Taipei.
None of the presidential hopefuls -- from either the DPP or the KMT -- had suffered as much as she had, she said. Among her most distressing ordeals was her five-year imprisonment.
Lu was sentenced to a 12-year term by the then KMT administration on charges of sedition for a 20-minute speech on human rights she made in December 1979 in Kaohsiung.
Lu said her mother learned of her arrest on television and fell ill soon after. Lu went on hunger strike after she was denied permission to visit her sick mother. After she died she was not even allowed to attend her mother's funeral.
"I was very upset and cried almost every day for nearly two years," she said.
Lu said that she did not have much money or much support from any party faction, but she believed her confidence, compassion and conscience would touch the hearts of the people.