Sun, Aug 25, 2002 - Page 3 News List

Workaholic advised to take it easy

NO REST Taichung Mayor Jason Hu is known for his passion for working hard, but he may have to lighten his workload after falling ill on a recent trip to the US

By Monique Chu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Accompanied by Taichung City Deputy Mayor Hsiao Jia-chih, right, and Taichung City Government Secretary-General Liu Bang-yu, left, Taichung City Mayor Jason Hu assures the people of Taichung at a press conference yesterday that his health problems will not affect the workings of the Taichung City Government.


Sixteen-year-old high-school student Jess Hu (胡韡耀) had an unusual wish on Father's Day this year.

"Please take care of yourself, or else my elder sister and I will endeavor to abolish the mayoral system," the young man wrote in a card written to his workaholic father, Jason Hu (胡志強).

But the 54-year-old man, who has spent little time with his family since he won last December's election by a landslide to become mayor of Taichung City, let his son down.

Soon after leaving for the US on a business trip on Aug. 9, Hu started suffering from severe headaches and dizziness. After a night in a San Francisco hotel, Hu went to a hospital for a three-day intensive health checkup, and was advised by the doctors to postpone his return to Taiwan.

In Taiwan, speculation abounded that Hu had suffered a stroke. But in several press conferences in the US, the mayor denied this, although he would give no details about his illness except that doctors had told him to rest.

But those close to Hu know that his lifestyle is almost certainly to blame for his illness.

"He is passionate about work and can't stand being unoccupied," Lin Mu-hung (林沐弘), Hu's close aide over the past five years, told the Taipei Times.

Although Hu's aides have arranged an average of 10 functions a day for the mayor, Hu sometimes shows up at some functions not on his itinerary.

Hu himself admits that he works too hard, to the extent that he has stopped playing his favorite sport of basketball since he became mayor of the third largest city in Taiwan.

"I've stopped playing basketball over the past seven or eight months since I became mayor. I simply stopped playing it regularly," Hu said during an interview with the Taipei Times yesterday, one day after he returned to Taiwan.

"This is why I got into all these troubles," he said.

Hu's love of work was even caricatured by the January issue of Compass, a Taichung-based bilingual entertainment magazine, as a horse-riding dragon slayer, a heroic image Hu said reflected Taichung residents' expectation of him as the city chief executive. "They wanted me to get rid of all the evils in the city," he said.

But the dragon-killer in the caricature has had his ups and downs in real life despite his glamorous career in the then KMT-led central government as foreign minister, Taipei's de facto ambassador to the US and government spokesman.

Hu has a Ph.D from Oxford, where he was under the supervision of renowned scholar Hedley Bull. But his road there was a bumpy one. He attended three universities in the US and the UK to earn his master's degree.

He first went to the University of South Carolina in the US, where he completed two years before his father became ill, forcing him to return to Taiwan in 1973.

Hu then failed to pass the qualification exam at Lancaster University, UK, on his second attempt to complete his master's studies before eventually obtaining his master's degree from the University of Southampton in 1977.

Hu then made it to the distinguished Balliol College at Oxford University and spent seven years studying for his doctorate. He submitted his Ph.D. thesis on the last day of his seven-year registration as a student there.

In his book entitled Pursuing Dreams in the City of Spires -- My days at Oxford (向塔尖尋夢 -- 我在牛津的日子), Hu summarized his life philosophy after reviewing the frustrations he had faced in his overseas studies.

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