Sun, Nov 10, 2002 - Page 3 News List

KMT defector chooses Lee Teng-hui

NATURAL STEP Chen Horng-chi's decision to leave the main opposition party came as no surprise to political insiders who say he identified with the TSU

By Crystal Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Chen Horng-chi, former KMT lawmaker and head of the TSU's organization department, talks about why he left the main opposition party and decided to help former president Lee Teng-hui's efforts to change Taiwan.

PHOTO: CHEN CHENG-CHANG, TAIPEI TIMES

The recent defection of former KMT lawmaker and organization official Chen Horng-chi (陳鴻基) to the TSU came as little surprise. A firm supporter of former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) and his "Taiwan first" policy, Chen decided a week ago to break ranks with the KMT, saying he regretted its drift back toward the pro-unification platform.

"By joining the TSU, I want to help keep Lee's legacy alive," he told reporters on Monday after taking helm of the TSU's organization department. "I was deeply moved by Lee's passion and resolve to serve the country despite his old age."

The first task facing the new TSU organization head is to help send seven colleagues to Taipei City Council on Dec. 7. Over 200 candidates are fighting to win a berth in the 52-seat body.

Allies and critics had predicted Chen's change of political affiliations after he lost his legislative seat representing the capital's southern district last December.

"There is nothing strange about Chen's switchover as he has identified with the TSU in major policy areas," TSU Chairman Huang Chu-wen (黃主文) said at a reception in honor of Chen last week.

During his stint as lawmaker between 1996 and last year, Chen belonged to the KMT's Generation-E Alliance, a legislative faction that is known for its pro-localization ideology. The term refers to efforts to make developing Taiwan the ultimate goal in itself instead of a bigger ambition involving China.

Chen said the KMT, under the leadership of Chairman Lien Chan (連戰), has departed from the path in defiance of mainstream public opinion.

"The party has looked at the cross-strait issue through a pro-Beijing lens and refuses to listen to dissenting opinions," he said. "Disappointed, I had no choice but to leave. More will take the same step in the future, I believe."

Indeed, the TSU since its birth 14 months ago has been actively approaching politicians of all stripes to expand its power base.

TSU Secretary-General Lin Jih-jia (林志嘉) and policy center director Lee Shang-ren (李先仁) were both former KMT members, and so were incumbent TSU lawmakers Hsu Den-koun (許登宮), Lo Chih-ming (羅志明) and Chen Chien-ming (陳建銘).

Former president Lee has said he still has influence over a number of KMT legislators -- claims that have caused the former ruling party to question the loyalty of members sympathetic to its former chairman.

Chen Horng-chi, for instance, has been under suspicion. In April last year, he joined forces with DPP legislators in pressuring the Japan Interchange Association in Taipei to grant Lee a visa for medical trips to the country.

Later the same year, he raised more eyebrows by calling on his party to cooperate with the DPP instead of the PFP after the legislative elections.

"If the KMT sticks with the so-called opposition alliance, the party will continue its decline," he said then.

"But by forming a coalition government, it could help preserve stability and fend off China's intimidation tactics."

Days later, he and fellow KMT legislative candidate Chen Hsueh-fen (陳雪芬) accompanied actors impersonating President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Lien Chan and walked down a red carpet to promote cooperation between the two parties.

KMT lawmaker Apollo Chen (陳學聖) panned the show as harmful to the party's unity and Lien's standing in the opposition alliance.

In the end, both Chen Horng-chi and Chen Hsueh-fen lost the race, due mainly to overnomination on the part of the opposition camp.

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