Tue, Jun 17, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Hualien election race heats up

TROUBLE?Former KMT government official Hsieh Shen-shan entered the battle for the commissioner's seat in what some see as a prelude to the presidential election

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Former Cabinet secretary-general Hsieh Shen-shan, center, of the KMT celebrates with supporters after announcing his intention to contest the Hualien County commissioner election.

PHOTO: HUA MENG-CHING

Former Cabinet secretary-general Hsieh Shen-shan (謝深山) yesterday announced his intention to run in the Hualien County commissioner election, a decision that raised the number of pan-blue nominees for the post to 13.

"So many supporters and people from the grassroots told me that they want me to serve the county," Hsieh said yesterday at a labor union conference in Hualien, "and I am willing to fight for them now."

However, Hsieh added that he would respect the alliance's final choice of candidate.

Hsieh, a senior KMT official and labor-union leader, emerged as the favorite among Hualien County voters in media and KMT polls.

The Hualien County commissioner election, due to be held on Aug. 2, is widely seen as a prelude to next March's presidential election as well as a test of the cooperation between the KMT and PFP.

"We are watching to see whether the PFP can successfully persuade its members to support a KMT candidate because there are so many conflicts of interest between the two parties," DPP Secretary General Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄) said.

PFP Legislator Fu Kun-chi (傅崑萁), who was sentenced to six years in jail with a fine of NT$35 million by the Taipei District Court in the first instance for financial irregularities, has already formed his campaign team and even set up a campaign headquarters to battle for the commissioner's post left vacant by the late Chang Fu-hsing (張福興), who died of lung cancer last month.

Chang's wife Liu Chao-a (劉詔娥) has also put herself in the running and claims that KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) once encouraged her to succeed her husband.

One DPP official, who wished to remain anonymous, said that the Hualien County commissioner campaign may reveal the real situation inside the KMT-PFP alliance.

"It is easy to sit down at the negotiating table and make a deal with other party leaders," the official said. "The question being asked among the lower ranks is who will be scarified?"

The official said that since the the KMT usually receives more than 60 percent of the vote in Hualien County, pan-blue members are keen to land the nomination.

"We believe that the conflict within the KMT-PFP alliance will be revealed during the campaign," the official said. "The pan-blues' problems may steadily worsen in the run up to the presidential election."

Chang Chun-hsiung said that the DPP's Central Standing Committee has authorized President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), who also serves as party chairman, to select the DPP's candidate.

"We want to nominate a non-DPP member, who can represent the grassroots and will govern the county by transcending any political party interest," Chang said.

Meanwhile, Premier Yu Shyi-kun visited Liu Chao-a yesterday to exchange views on county affairs. Liu denied after the private meeting with Yu that she had discussed the election with the premier.

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