Sun, Dec 14, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Strong personality the making of Lu

By Lin Chieh-yu and Debby Wu  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) doesn't think that Taiwan will be ready to have a woman president in 2008, but in any case, she says she isn't planning on seeking the job.

"I doubt whether Taiwan will have its first female president by 2008 because I doubt whether Taiwanese society will be so advanced by then. The 2008 presidential election has nothing to do with me. Let others take the challenge. I'll be too tired by then," Lu told the Taipei Times in an interview on Friday.

"The experience of being the vice president from 2000 to now has left my body covered with wounds," she said.

"I wasn't on the alert against some media and politicians who attacked and criticized me. The entire society had doubts and showed that it was ill-suited to a female vice president. It was full of hostility," she said.

As the highest profile female politician in Taiwanese history, Lu's next step is a hot topic in the media. Many people do think she has her eye on the presidency.

Lu intentionally adopted a low-key attitude regarding the debate over whether she would be nominated to run as President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) running mate again, but she still showed strong dissatisfaction with the state of Taiwanese politics.

When Chen announced on Thursday that he was teaming up with Lu again, many Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators said it was a day of national mourn-ing, and several senior members of the party said they would be "participating in the campaign with tears in our eyes."

Just one month earlier, more than one-third of the DPP legislators signed a petition seeking to block Chen from nominating Lu as his running mate. A week before the nomination, two key pro-independence figures said four times in public that they were worried about Lu's "political ambition."

The strong criticism can be blamed on Lu's high level of self-confidence, her vision of herself as a political pioneer, her willingness to forge ahead on a policy no matter what other people say and her unwillingness to be regulated by the party.

No matter how great the opposition is, Lu has rarely been stopped from getting what she wants.

Those who opposes Lu criticizes her as "too outspoken, arbitrary, ambitious and inflexible," but her supporters see her as "knowledgeable, determined, seasoned in international affairs and equipped with a futuristic vision."

Her opponents have rarely been able to defeat Lu in political struggles, but over the years she has shown a talent for alienating supporters.

Long-term ally is not a phrase that is often heard in connection with Lu.

"Since I entered politics, I have participated in elections five times and won all five," Lu has often reminded reporters.

Her election record is an outstanding one in Taiwan -- but what is rarely mentioned is that her victories were based on the support of five different camps. Each time she has fallen out with her old supporters before the next election rolled around.

Lu's political career dates back to the breaking of diplomatic relations between Taiwan and the US in 1978. She chose to end her stint as a student at Harvard University and returned to Taiwan to join the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government and take charge of Cabinet work related to young people.

She devoted herself to women's movement, and started to move in the circles of dissidents promoting democracy and reform. She eventually changed from a KMT-raised Taiwanese elite to a dissident.

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