Mon, Apr 26, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Newsmakers: Sisy Chen falls out of favor with blues

TARGET The independent legislator now has enemies on both sides of the political spectrum, with members of the opposition alliance having turned against her

By Huang Tai-lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Independent Legislator Sisy Chen has the distinction of having enemies on both sides of the political spectrum. She was once considered a star in the Democratic Progressive Party only to become one of its fiercest critics. After campaigning for the blue camp in the presidential election, she is finding that the opposition alliance, too, has taken a dislike to her.

TAIPEI TIMES FILE PHOTO

Having long enjoyed courteous treatment from the pan-blue camp, independent Legislator Sisy Chen (陳文茜) fell from grace this past week, becoming a target for blue-camp lawmakers.

Believing that her baseless allegations at the March 19 press conference with regard to the assassination attempt on President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) had provoked resentment among undecided voters and shifted support to Chen Shui-bian, a number of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators said Sisy Chen ought to be held responsible for the KMT-People First Party (PFP) alliance's defeat in last month's presidential election.

Chen Shui-bian and Lu defeated the ticket of KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) by a razor-thin margin.

Lien has refused to concede defeat in the election and claimed, although lacking evidence, voting irregularities. The blue camp has filed lawsuits demanding a recount and seeking to declare the election a fraud.

Via TV and radio programs, Sisy Chen defended herself, saying her allegations were based on information provided by the alliance and that Lien, Soong and a number of key campaign figures knew what she was going to say at the press conference beforehand.

Although the KMT's criticism of Sisy Chen appeared to have come to a halt since Lien urged an end to finger-pointing, the brouhaha nonetheless shed light on Chen's intriguing relationship with the blue camp.

Known for her witty, sarcastic speeches and eloquence, the 46-year-old Chen had generally been regarded as a "bright and talented female" in Taiwan's political arena.

But given her bold and resolute manner, she projected a controversial image in the eyes of the public.

A Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) publicity chief from 1995 to 1998, Sisy Chen defected from the DPP after the 2000 presidential election. She has since become one of the fiercest critics of Chen Shui-bian and her former party.

Since her election in December 2001 as an independent legislator, she has sided with the pan-blue camp on a number of issues and was a driving force behind the pan-blue camp's publicity machine during this year's presidential campaign.

Although the upper echelons of the alliance appreciated and relied on her contributions to battling the DPP, her lack of official title or position within the camp generated resentment. Members of the alliance grumbled that she had too much influence and that she meddled in the blue camp's affairs.

Sisy Chen defended her role, saying she did not want "to get too involved" with either the KMT or the PFP and that she was helping out merely as a friend.

Her remarks at the March 19 press conference showed the level to which she was involved in the alliance's campaign affairs and her contacts with pan-blue leaders.

"It turned out that the more Sisy Chen talked [about her involvement with the alliance], the more clear it became to us how close she had been with the core of the party leaders," KMT Legislator Hsu Shu-poh (許舒博) said.

One reason why the KMT welcomed Sisy Chen's input was that she introduced new ways of thinking that the 109-year-old KMT seemed to lack, said veteran media figure Yang Hsien-hung (楊憲宏).

"It has been the KMT's longtime practice that subordinates do as they are told," Yang said. "Sisy Chen's joining the team brought in multi-faceted views and ideas to the KMT's otherwise rather systematic way of thinking."

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