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Mon, Jul 02, 2001 - Page 3 News List

Huang Chu-wen faces greatest test

Well-known for decades as a man that follows his own star, the former minister of the interior and confidant of former president Lee Teng-hui is spearheading an effort to form a new political party to permit more efficient DPP governance and maintain Lee's Taiwan First' legacy

By Crystal Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Former minister of the interior Huang Chu-wen is forming a new political group aimed at maintaining the `Taiwan First' legacy of former president Lee Teng-hui.

PHOTO: CHU YU-PING, TAIPEI TIMES

The plain and low-key business style of Huang Chu-wen (黃主文), the former minister of the interior and KMT stalwart, belies the intensity of the political storm he has been raising across the country.

Disappointed at the KMT's increasing tilt toward the right, Huang is forming a new political group aimed at burnishing the "Taiwan First" legacy of former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝).

"The country owes its economic and democratic achievements in recent years to Lee's Taiwanization policy, which must not be abrogated," Huang said.

For the past few months, politicians of all stripes have been closely monitoring who Huang is recruiting for his new party, which aspires to grab 10 percent of the vote in the year-end legislative elections.

"Had the [existing] opposition parties done a better job, there would be no room for another one," he has said, noting that over 70 percent of the people polled frown on the opposition-controlled legislature, which has obstructed the policy goals of the executive branch. "But ours will ally with the ruling DPP, allowing the government to smoothly deliver on its mandate," Hung said.

The KMT, of which Huang was a member for decades, has moved onto a pro-China path and has abandoned Lee's definition of cross-strait relations as "special state-to-state" in nature, he noted.

"Without asserting the sovereignty of Taiwan, how can we demand parity with China at the negotiating table?" Huang asked.

A staunch backer of the "no haste, be patient" policy, he gnashes his teeth at suggestions by KMT officials and leading industrialists to relax controls on China-bound investments.

"The legal obstacles, if removed in one stroke, will cause irreparable harm to Taiwan's national security," he argued, adding that Lee shared his apprehensions.

Consequently, Huang decided not to renew his KMT membership late last year. "It doesn't make sense for people with conflicting ideas to remain in the same fold," he said.

A history of non-conformity

Huang, 60, had been a five-term lawmaker before taking the helm of the Ministry of the Interior in 1998. His political career, spanning two decades, has been characterized by non-conformity. Before 1986 he championed the lifting of martial law and suggested that blacklisted overseas Taiwanese be allowed to return to the country.

When Lee took power in January 1988, he immediately pledged support for the first native-born president, whose power base was rather shaky at the time.

Months later, Huang and 20-plus KMT colleagues founded a legislative faction called the Collective Wisdom Club (集思會), pressing the government to focus on developing Taiwan instead of treating it as a springboard for recovering China.

"As a student I learned Chinese history but knew nothing about Taiwanese history," he said. "I could tell from a map how to travel from Shenyang to Guangzhou by train but didn't know how to make a trip from Chiayi to Pingtung. Such ignorance of Taiwan is just not right."

Its advocacy of Taiwanization and support for Lee earned the club a place as a mainstream political grouping, while the non-mainstream faction was composed mostly of mainland conservatives.

Between 1990 and 1992, the mainstream and the non-mainstream factions clashed over almost every policy issue.

"A man of depth, Huang did not talk much, but when he spoke, his words carried a lot of weight," said Hung Shiu-chu (洪秀柱), a member of the non-mainstream faction. "Unfortunately, his ideology conflicts with mine." The club dissolved soon after all of its members except Huang and Yao Eng-chi (饒穎奇), now the vice legislative speaker, lost their bids in the 1992 legislative elections.

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