Liao Fung-te (廖風德), a key member of president-elect Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) incoming Cabinet, died of heart and lung failure last night after collapsing during a hike in Muzha (木柵), a suburb of Taipei. He was 57.
Liao was designated minister of the interior and earlier served as director of the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) organization and development committee.
Wanfang Hospital deputy superintendent Hsu Chun-sen (許淳森) said that a medical team placed Liao on life support but failed to resuscitate him after five hours of emergency care.
The hospital pronounced him dead at 9:10pm.
Hsu declined to make further comments on Liao’s medical history out of respect for Liao’s family.
Liao was found by hikers at a park near the intersection of Wanning Street and Jungong Road at 3:30pm. After first aid failed to revive him, he was rushed to the nearby Wanfang Hospital.
Hsu said at 6:20pm that Liao was dead on arrival at the hospital at around 4pm, but that he was still being treated in hopes that he could be brought back to life.
Ma, vice president-elect Vincent Siew (蕭萬長), premier-designate Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) and KMT Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) rushed to the hospital upon hearing the news.
Liao was a KMT legislator from 1999 to 2005, and a major campaign strategist for the KMT. His experience in electioneering and mobilizing pan-blue grassroots support helped the party win the last eight major elections, including the legislative elections in 2004 and in January, the Taipei mayoral elections in 2006 and the presidential election in March.
Liao’s contributions in putting an end to the KMT’s run of defeats in major elections earned him the nicknames “General Luck” and “General Invincible.”
Liao was born in Ilan County on April 17, 1951. He was a graduate of National Chengchi University’s Graduate School of History.
Before entering politics, Liao worked as a newspaper reporter and later as a professor of history at his alma mater.
He was also a novelist who touched on the lives of ethnic Taiwanese in rural areas.
KMT spokesman Huang Yu-cheng (黃玉振) said that Wu and all party members were in deep grief over Liao’s death, and that the party would assist Liao’s family with arrangements for his funeral.
Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) expressed surprise at the news, saying that Liao’s death was a great loss to the nation.
Additional reporting by CNA