Mon, Aug 11, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Newsmakers: Bid ups stock of Chien Hsi-chieh

HAUNTING THE DPP The Alliance of Fairness and Justice intends to compete in the presidential race, but not for revenge, the alliance's convener said

By Debby Wu  /  STAFF REPOPTER

The leader of the Alliance of Fairness and Justice and former DPP lawmaker Chien Hsi-chieh has announced his group's intention to put forward a candidate for the presidential election.

PHOTO: TAIPEI TIMES FILE PHOTO

With all eyes turning to next March's presidential election, the Alliance of Fairness and Justice has raised eyebrows by announcing its intention to field its own candidate.

The move has thrust alliance convener and former DPP legislator Chien Hsi-chieh (簡錫土皆) into the limelight, thanks to his political background. But when asked whether the election bid was to show his dissatisfaction toward his party, he insisted that it was not a quarrel about politics, but about practicing his own ideals.

Idealistic, passionate, and a sense of mission -- that is also how friends of Chien describe him.

"He's got passion and ideals, and that has not changed because of his status. He's very capable of realizing his ideals as well. When he was fighting for the alternative program for compulsory military service in the legislature, we thought he would not succeed although we still gave him our support. But he won the battle in the end," said alliance spokesman Wang Jung-chang (王榮璋).

Chien's long-time pal at the DPP's New Tide faction, Legislator Hong Chi-chang (洪奇昌) also lauded Chien as a respectable friend.

"He is an idealistic and devoted person. He has been involved in the labor movement for a long time and he's been concerned with social justice. What I have to say about him is all positive," Hong said.

But Hong, who left the country over a month before the alliance's official establishment, said he knew nothing about the alliance and Chien never discussed the issue with him.

Chien came from a strong labor-movement background. His participation in Taiwan's democratization movement started after the Kaohsiung Incident (美麗島事件) in 1979, drawing comics and writing articles for opposition magazines.

He then devoted himself to the labor movement in 1984 -- he started the Taiwan Labor Legal Support Group with Chiou I-jen (邱義仁), who later became a leading figure in the DPP, and others with similar ideals. The group was to become the Taiwan Labor Front, a major labor group. Chien also functioned as Taiwan Labor Front's president for a few years in the early 1990s.

Chien was a legislator from 1995 to 2001, and he also fought for labor rights in the legislature, including reducing working hours. Currently, he is the executive director of the Peacetime Foundation of Taiwan, promoting peace between the two sides across the Taiwan Strait.

While Chien remains on friendly terms with some of his old DPP pals, criticism does exist.

"He is good at simplifying complicated problems and attracting the public's attention," said Lin Cho-shui (林濁水), another DPP New Tide Legislator. "But while his methods may be effective for the labor movement, the simplification is causing some negative results. It is no good for social movements to follow the political parties' way of oversimplifying problems.

"If he wants to criticize the current social and political problems, he should be careful to see whether he can really promote social justice. He should deal with social issues more seriously and look at them in depth, instead of handling it superficially," Lin said.

"It is impossible to integrate different minority groups. Each one has its own issues, and may conflict with the other's. It is difficult to solve the differences among these groups, just like what happened with education reform, where the right-wing and left-wing activists have diverse opinions regarding tuition fees."

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