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Tue, May 30, 2000 - Page 4 News List

Hsieh considering DPP chairmanship bid

RISING STAR Amid a groundswell of party support, Kaohsiung's mayor promises a decision soon, despite reservations that doing both jobs might be too much

By Hung Chen-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Kaohsiung City Mayor Frank Hsieh is all smiles as he leaves an ad hoc meeting of the DPP's Welfare Alliance -- one of the party's factions -- that agreed to support his bid for party chairman.

PHOTO: LIAO JUI-HSIANG, LIBERTY TIMES

With a push from party colleagues, Kaohsiung City Mayor Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) is considering making a run for the DPP chairmanship, announcing yesterday that he would make a decision in two days.

"I will seriously consider the issue and then make a final decision in two days," Hsieh said after a meeting yesterday morning with DPP legislators who had traveled to Kaohsiung to show their support.

While some DPP members are confident Hsieh can win the post, others cautioned him to not take on too much responsibility.

Hsieh said that if he decided to run he was confident he could handle both the party job and govern the biggest city in southern Taiwan.

"There is no conflict ... I can undoubtedly take on both and do my best," Hsieh stressed.

Hsieh, a former colleague of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), who previously served as a Taipei City councilor and a legislator, has long been deemed a second-tier star in the DPP. A move to run for the party chairmanship -- along with Chen leading the central government -- could be the beginning of a "Chang-Bian" era (長扁共治) [Chang is Hsieh's given name].

After current DPP chairman Lin I-hsiung (林義雄) announced he would not seek another term in July, Hsieh started asking his colleagues' opinions.

The DPP's newly founded Mainstream Coalition, made up of many of Hsieh's supporters, yesterday encourage Hsieh to run for the job.

Other potential candidates, such as lawmaker Yen Chin-fu (顏錦福) and former DPP chairman Yao Chia-wen (姚嘉文) told Hsieh in Taipei last night that they would yield to him. However, in spite of Hsieh's apparent strength, many DPP members are anxious about his situation.

"There is no one to compare to Hsieh within the party ... The real problem is whether he could balance the two posts, when one is based in Kaohsiung and another is in Taipei," said Lee Wen-chung (李文忠), DPP legislative caucus leader.

Lee advised Hsieh to be patient and loyal to his current position.

Hsieh's attempt, meanwhile, drew quick opposition from Kaohsiung City councilors.

People First Party councilors Mei Tsai-hsing (梅再興) and Tsai Ma-fu (蔡媽福) criticized Hsieh for what they called his neglect of Kaohsiung. They warned Hsieh not to place his own interests above those of Kaohsiung, otherwise he stood to lose more than he would gain.

In contrast to Hsieh's soaring status in the DPP, a rising star in the KMT -- Taipei City Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) -- appears to be facing challenges within his party.

Although Ma's term will not expire until 2002, some of his opponents within the KMT are already planning to replace him as the party's candidate in the next mayoral election.

Former KMT spokesman Huang Hui-chen (黃輝珍) is reportedly being groomed as a potential rival. Huang does not deny the possibility.

Ma's recent handling of the anti-Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) protests outside the KMT headquarters, accentuated the rift between him and Lee.

KMT insiders now anticipate Ma's standing will suffer within the party.

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