Fri, Aug 01, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Candidates seek support of Chang Fu-hsing 's widow

By Sandy Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER IN HUALIEN

As the Hualien County commissioner by-election enters its final hours, inquiring eyes begin to fall upon Liu Chao-eh (劉詔娥), widow of late KMT commissioner Chang Fu-hsing (張福興), to see if she would throw her support behind one of the three high-profile hopefuls vying for the post left vacant by her husband's death.

Given her position as the widow of the former commissioner, Liu's open endorsement of any candidate would undoubtedly have a sway on her late-husband's supporters and impact the outcome of tomorrow's election.

"All candidates are hoping that Liu will stump on their behalf; although on the surface they all being discreet about it," said Hualien County Council Vice Speaker Lin Lien-ming (林連明), who served as the chief coordinator of Chang's campaign team two years ago.

While Liu herself was not available for immediate comment, Chung Yi-wen (鍾逸文), campaign spokesperson of KMT splinter candidate Wu Kuo-tung (吳國棟), said that Liu is unlikely to stage any open endorsement for any candidate in the by-election.

"If Liu is to stump for any candidate, Wu will be the one who she will support," said Chung confidently, pointing to the fact that Chang's former campaign crew announced their support for Wu last week.

The Wu camp has also been in frequent contact with Liu and her family, Chung added.

"But given what has happened, it is unlikely that Liu will endorse any candidates," Chang said, referring to a recent rumor which said that Liu has planned to step out at the last minute to make an emotional appeal in support of the DPP's You Ying-lung's (游盈隆) by kneeling at You's campaign rally tonight.

"The rumor hurt Liu and put her in a awkward position," Chung said. "The rumor dented the chance of Liu stumping for Wu," added Chung, saying the rumor was part of pan-blue candidate Hsieh Shen-shan (謝深山) campaign tactics.

In his 1997 bid for the Taipei County commissioner seat, Hsieh lost the race partly because KMT Legislator Lin Jih-jia (林志嘉), who decided to run a splinter campaign, drew votes away from him.

However, the main reason he lost -- according to the KMT's post-election evaluation -- was down to an emotional appeal by the terminally ill DPP Legislator Lu Hsiu-yi (盧修一) on behalf of the DPP's Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌)

"Hsieh is very afraid of that happening to him again," Chung said. "[Hsieh's ] camp spread the rumor to kill the possibility of Liu stumping for anyone else."

Earlier last month, Liu had sought to succeed her late husband and announced she would run in the by-election as an independent candidate.The DPP said it would support Liu's bid.

However, Liu pulled out of the race 24 hours later, accusing the KMT and the PFP pressuring her to withdraw. Liu then also said she did not want to be involved in the by-election and political matters.

The sudden change-of-mind had thrown the DPP into disarray. It later announced that You, deputy superintendent of the Ketagalan Institute, would run as the party's candidate in the race.

Huang Hsian-tung (黃憲東), You's spokesman, said that while the You camp has consistently expressed care and support to Liu's family, it is done so plainly out of humanity."

"Since Liu herself has openly expressed her disinterest in the by-election and political matters, we ought to respect her will and leave her and her family along in the by-election," Huang said.

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