Thu, Nov 19, 2015 - Page 1 News List

Jennifer Wang joins Chu’s ticket

COURTING CONTROVERSY?Jennifer Wang was often the target of criticism when she headed the Council of Labor Affairs, especially over lawsuits it filed in 2012

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Eric Chu, left, yesterday introduces his running mate, former minister of labor affairs Jennifer Wang, at the ceremony at the party’s headquarters in Taipei.

Photo: CNA

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Eric Chu (朱立倫) yesterday confirmed former Council of Labor Affairs minister Jennifer Wang (王如玄) as his running mate for the Jan. 16 presidential election.

Chu made the announcement at a news conference at the KMT headquarters in Taipei, while hundreds of people, including former freeway toll collectors, demonstrated outside.

Chu said Wang’s nomination was passed by the KMT Central Standing Committee at its meeting yesterday morning and then clasped hands with Wang and other prominent KMT members as they chanted “KMT winning.”

“Born into a worker’s family, Wang grew up in Changhua County and made her way to National Taiwan University’s law school before earning a masters and a doctorate at Fu Jen [Catholic] University and Beijing’s Renmin University of China respectively,” he said.

As a lawyer, Wang has been devoted to issues affecting women, grassroots workers and underprivileged people, Chu said.

She returned to her legal work after heading the council for four-and-a-half years, during which time her efforts on pensions, parental leave and the minimum wage were widely applauded, Chu said.

“Together, we can form administration centered on the economy. I will draw upon my financial expertise and work to further peaceful cross-strait ties, while Wang can ensure the economic development achieved by the government is also felt by grassroots workers,” he said.

Wang said that she had struggled over accepting Chu’s offer because joining an election campaign would be a challenging task.

“However, after seeing the many wonderful people and individuals needing care in Taiwan, I believe they deserve better treatment. That is why I have decided to roll up my sleeves and join the race, even if it means making some sacrifices,” she said.

As for the criticism against her handling of laid-off workers — mainly from textile and electronic manufacturers that closed down in the 1990s — Wang said their cases had stayed on her mind even after she resigned from the council.

“I had no other choice but to do what I did... I am a lawyer and I know the law. It was [Kaohsiung Mayor] Chen Chu (陳菊) [of the Democratic Progressive Party] who filed the first round of lawsuits against them when she served as the council’s minister. With a verdict in favor of the government [from those lawsuits] and the approaching expiration of the 15-year statute of limitations for the case, I had to take action,” she said, referring to lawsuits she filed in early 2012 against laid-off workers who had not repaid the loans provided by the council in 1997 in lieu of layoff and retirement payments owed by their employers.

Those lawsuits sparked a series of protests, including a demonstration in February 2013 that saw protesters lying down on the rails at Taipei Railway Station.

Wang rejected accusations that she initiated an unpaid leave system, saying that the system existed during Chen’s tenure and that Wang was the one who tried to ensure employees on unpaid leave receive a monthly salary equal to the minimum wage.

Asked whether she plans to join the KMT, Wang said she would stick to her principle of being non-partisan because she is tired of the divisions between the pan-blue and pan-green camps.

A former president of the Awakening Foundation and a member of the Executive Yuan’s Women’s Right Committee, Wang has been a stanch advocate of gender equality in the workplace and a voice against domestic violence and sexual harassment in the workplace.

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