Mon, Oct 14, 2002 - Page 3 News List

For many of the nation's leaders, politics is a family affair

Many of the legislature's younger members -- and their siblings -- are carrying on a political tradition started by their parents, or even grandparents

By Stephanie Low  /  STAFF REPORTER

Yu Cheng-hsien, left, helps campaign for his younger brother, Yu Jan-daw, right, who was running for a legislative seat, in 1998. Yu Cheng-hsien was Kaohsiung county commissioner at the time.

TAIPEI TIMES FILE PHOTO

For those pursuing politics as a career, being a member of a political family can help a lot. In many cases, a political career is predestined by birth or by marriage into such a family.

This is exactly how a number of sitting legislators have come to their positions today. Among them are members of the second and third generations of political families, as well as the spouses of family members.

A typical example is the Kaohsiung County-based Yu family. This DPP-affiliated family now has two members in the legislature: Yu Jane-daw (余政道) and Cheng Kuei-lien (鄭貴蓮), wife of Yu Jane-daw's elder brother -- Minister of the Interior Yu Cheng-hsien (余政憲).

The family, which gained political sway when Yu Teng-fa (余登發) was elected the fourth commissioner of Kaohsiung County, dominated the politics of the county for decades until Yu Cheng-hsien -- Yu Teng-fa's grandson -- stepped down as the 13th Kaohsiung County commissioner last year.

During this period, Huang Yu-jen (黃友仁), Yu Teng-fa's son-in-law, was the eighth commissioner of the county. The 10th and 11th commissioner terms were served by Yu-Chen Yueh-ying (余陳月瑛), Yu Teng-fa's daughter-in-law. Yu Cheng-hsien later took over the position from his mother and continued the family's control over the county for another two terms.

Extending their influence beyond Kaohsiung County, members of the family have taken turns running for a seat on the Taiwan Provincial Assembly and Legislative Yuan. Before Yu Jane-daw, who is now in his second term, Yu-Chen Yueh-ying, Yu Cheng-hsien and his sister Yu Lin-ya (余玲雅) have all served as legislators.

While the Yu family's tradition runs back several generation, many young members of the Legislative Yuan are also carrying on where their parents left off.

Three-term DPP Legislator Wang Hsueh-fung (王雪峰), daughter of retired five-term Taipei City Council deputy Wang Kun-ho (王昆和), first came into contact with politics when she was in primary school around 30 years ago.

"When I was in fourth grade, I stumped for my father on his campaign truck," the former lawyer said.

Wang joined the democracy movement while in college in the late 1980s. But it was not until 1992, when at age 28 she was elected a National Assembly deputy, that her political career took off. Three years later she won her first term as a legislator.

Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁), another three-term DPP legislator, said he had never considered entering politics, having trained to be a medical doctor.

"Influenced by my father, I ran for legislator after finishing graduate school and took to a political path," the 38-year-old legislator recalled.

His father, Chen Che-nan (陳哲男) deputy secretary-general of the Presidential Office, held a seat in the legislature for three terms until 1994.

In many cases, however, children of a political family have no alternative but to follow their parents' profession.

Two-term KMT Legislator Lin Yi-shih (林益世), who was a dentist, put aside his original trade to join the legislative races in 1998, with a mission to continue the political life of his aging father, Lin Hsien-pao (林仙保).

According to the 34-year-old legislator, he, unlike other candidates, was under extremely heavy pressure to win so as not to "disgrace" his family.

A politician for 40 years who served four terms as a deputy in the Kaohsiung County Council and another four terms as a deputy in the Taiwan Provincial Assembly, Lin Hsien-pao was leader of a local political faction in Kao-hsiung County.

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