Sun, Jul 18, 2004 - Page 3 News List

TSU wins in Kaohsiung, but it's the city that loses

BY-ELECTION The people made their voices heard. The shame of it is that many said they're content for their councilors to practice the corrupt politics of the past

By Chang Yun-ping  /  STAFF REPORTER , IN KAOHSIUNG

The Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) was the biggest winner in yesterday's by-election for Kaohsiung City councilors. However, a mockery was made of the city's electoral politics as Kaohsiung's vote-buying culture proved that it is alive and well with the election of Chu Ting-shan (朱挺珊), who ran in the by-election on behalf of her father, Chu An-hsiung (朱安雄), a former city council speaker who has been convicted of vote-buying.

Three of the TSU's four candidates were elected in yesterday's by-election, which, added to the election of six Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidates, gives the pan-green camp the majority of seats in the Kaohsiung City Council.

Political analysts yesterday said that the TSU's excellent performance was due to its strategy of headhunting former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) councilors with solid grassroots support, as well as the consolidation of the pro-independence vote.

Chuang Chi-ming (莊淇銘), president of the Kaohsiung City National Open University, yesterday said that Lan Chien-chang (藍健菖), a former KMT city councilor who switched to the TSU for the by-election, is a good example of voters' support for "localization" as opposed to "pro-unification."

Chiu Kuo-chen (邱國禎), director of the well-known on-line debate forum South News (南方快報), yesterday said that the TSU's taking up the DPP's pro-independence banner has consolidated the votes of pro-independence sympathizers -- a potential precursor for TSU success in the year-end legislative elections.

Cheng Cheng-iok (鄭正煜), executive director of Taiwan Southern Society (南社), said yesterday that the pan-green camp's becoming the majority has presented a critical choice for "swing" politicians who must choose between the pan-green and the pan-blue camp.

"This by-election reveals that Taiwanese identity has become mainstream opinion and started to take root since the presidential election. This tendency will grow and strengthen in the year-end legislative elections and gradually drive out the colonial remnants of the pro-unification China-centric ideology," Cheng said.

However, the by-election yesterday was marred by a return of corrupt political forces, with the election of three candidates with family ties to former councilors convicted of taking NT$5 million bribes from Chu An-hsiung in the election for council speaker.

Three of the nine candidates from the bribe-taking families were elected. They are, in addition to Chu Ting-shan, Tsai Wu-nan (蔡武男), son of former councilor Tsai Ching-yuan (蔡慶源), and Chen Li-nah (陳麗娜), wife of former councilor Yang Ming-lang (楊敏郎).

Chu Ting-shan and Tsai Wu-nan ran independent campaigns, while Chen represented the KMT. All three come from Kaohsiung's 5th electoral district, an older area and a stronghold of Kaohsiung's traditional industries.

Chiu said the success of the three candidates from the bribe-taking families resulted from the special features of the area, where support for candidates comes from traditional grassroots connection networks.

The three candidates from the bribe-taking families nominated by the DPP all failed in yesterday's by-election, reflecting Kaohsiung residents' high expectations for the DPP, which has long claimed to be a beacon of democracy and a pioneer in the country's democratic development.

DPP Deputy Secretary-general Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) yesterday expressed appreciation to Kaohsiung voters, as six of the DPP's 10 candidates were elected -- but said the DPP took note of the voters' not having elected the three DPP candidates with ties to bribe-takers.

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