Mon, Jul 07, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Election draws Hsieh from retirement

SENSE OF RESPONSIBILITY The former KMT Cabinet secretary-general is running in Hualien for the pan-blue camp after spending the past three years out of politics

By Sandy Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Hsieh Shen-shan, right, the KMT's candidate in the Hualien County commissioner by-election, waves to supporters during a rally held by a local labor union last week.

TAIPEI TIMES FILE PHOTO

After retiring from public life three years ago, the KMT's former Cabinet secretary-general Hsieh Shen-shan (謝深山) is in the spotlight again, this time expecting to fight a tough battle in the Hualien County commissioner by-election as representative of the split pan-blue camp against the united pan-green camp.

"I love this land [Hualien] and thus am willing to shoulder the responsibility and run in the campaign," said Hsieh, a Hualien County native, of his decision to return to the political arena after years of relaxing at home.

The by-election will be held next month to fill the post left vacant by the KMT's Chang Fu-hsing (張福興), who died of lung cancer in May.

As the approved nominee of the KMT-PFP alliance, Hsieh will face two other high-profile opponents: the DPP's You Ying-lung (游盈隆) and former KMT Hualien County commissioner Wu Kuo-tung (吳國棟), who enjoys popular support from local factions and is expected to be expelled by the KMT for running his own campaign.

The Green Party's Chi Shu-ying (齊淑英) and independent Hsu Chia-chen (許家琛) also announced their interest to run in the election, although they are considered marginal candidates.

Expressing his confidence that he will emerge victorious in the county, a traditionally pan-blue stronghold, Hsieh, noting Wu's candidacy, admitted that the by-election would be an intense fight.

The situation is deja-vu for Hsieh.

In his 1997 bid for the Taipei County commissioner seat, Hsieh, then a KMT nominee, also faced a renegade member of his own party. Then-legislator Lin Jih-jia (林志嘉), after failing to secure the KMT nomination, staged his own campaign for the seat without his party's blessing

Road to retirement

Hsieh lost that race in part because Lin's candidacy drew votes away from him. But the main reason he lost -- according to KMT's post-election evaluation -- was the one momentous impromptu move made by the late DPP legislator Lu Hsiu-yi (盧修一) who solicited votes for the DPP's Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌).

Lu, then dying of cancer, knelt down at a campaign rally in Taipei County the night before voting day and made an emotional appeal in support of Su. Su won.

Hsieh's withdrawal from the political scene after losing that election turned out to be merely a sabbatical. It was not long before he was tapped by then-premier Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) in 1998 to take on the job as Cabinet secretary-general.

Hsieh, 64, began his political career as a labor representative in the Legislative Yuan in 1973. He was a seven-term legislator, serving from 1973 to 1994.

During his decade-long career in public service, Hseih has also served as member to the standing committees of both the Taiwan Railway Workers Union and Chinese Federation of Railway Worker Unions.

Hsieh was president of the Chinese Federation of Labor from 1988 to 1994, during which he also served as a member to the KMT's Central Standing Committee.

Hsieh enjoyed close ties with the nation's labor unions and was appointed as chairman of the Council of Labor Affairs in 1994, where he served until 1997, when he ran in the Taipei County commissioner race.

Hsieh gave up his post of Cabinet secretary-general in March 2000 when Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) won the presidency.

Given Hsieh's comprehensive experience in public service, the popular support he commands from the grassroots and his good-natured personality, the Chinese-language media has reported that the pan-green camp had originally eyed Hsieh for its candidate. But he turned the offer down, stressing his loyalty to the KMT and claiming that under no circumstances would he run on behalf of another party.

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