Mon, Nov 07, 2005 - Page 3 News List

KRTC Scandal: From A-bian's career builder to troublemaker

By Chiu Yu-Tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The sensational photo of former Kaohsiung Rapid Transit Corp (KRTC) vice chairman Chen Min-hsien, left, and former Presidential Office deputy secretary-general Chen Che-nan at a casino in South Korea, which sparked a controversy surrounding the cable station TVBS.

PHOTO: CHANG CHUNG-YI, TAIPEI TIMES (SCREEN GRAB FROM TVBS)

In December 1992, 51-year-old Taiwan-born Chen Che-nan (陳哲男) -- a Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislator with strong support from Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), then president of the nation and KMT chairman -- was expelled from the party because of his severe criticism of the party's vagueness on a line distinguishing Taiwan from China.

Chen, born in 1941 and once an elementary school teacher, began his political career in the middle of the 1970s by serving as borough warden in Kaohsiung City. His strong Taiwan consciousness gradually grew more and more inconsistent with the viewpoints of the KMT. In 1992, he severely criticized senior KMT officials, such as former premier Hao Po-tsun (郝柏村), saying their sticking to the "One China" policy would eventually sell Taiwan out to China. He was expelled only 16 days prior to that year's legislative election. However, his image of a victim persecuted by the KMT and of a fighter for Taiwan's dignity won him a victory in the election in Kaohsiung City.

In 1993, Chen Che-nan was warmly welcomed by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Back then, he would hardly have been able to imagine that he would be expelled 12 years later. And this time around, his disposal was processed in a more humiliating way.

Because of Chen Che-nan's alleged corruption in connection with the Kaohsiung Rapid Transit Corp (KRTC) scandal, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) publicly apologized to the nation on Sept 29 in a bid to rescue the DPP's seriously damaged image. The next day, the DPP expelled Chen Che-nan from the party he has been a member of since late 1993. On Oct. 3, Chen Shui-bian ordered that Chen Che-nan be stripped of two medals he had conferred upon him when he (Chen Che-nan) was deputy secretary-general to the Presidential Office and the president's close confidant.

In early 1994, when then DPP lawmaker Chen Shui-bian, a Tainan County native, won the party's candidacy for the Taipei mayoral election, Chen Che-nan offered his assistance wherever he could, both spiritually and practically.

When Chen Shui-bian replaced Thomas Huang (黃大洲) of the KMT as Taipei City Mayor, Chen Che-nan was immediately appointed to head the Department of Civil Affairs. Chen Che-nan's innovative ideas and ability to change the stereotype of public servants, such as offering hot tea and employing volunteers in abundance, created Chen Shui-bian's reform image. Later, Chen Che-nan was promoted to the city government's secretary general.

Political observers see Chen Che-nan, who knew the complex social networks in the south, is familiar with the political culture of Taiwanese communities and had been influenced by the KMT for decades, as a powerful builder of Chen Shui-bian's political career. However, during Chen Che-nan's tenure as former deputy secretary-general to the Presidential Office during Chen Shui-bian's first term as president from May 2000 to March last year, opposition political figures kept attacking him because of an alleged involvement in scandals. These allegations included interfering with governmental bidding projects and illegally receiving election-campaign funds. Chen Che-nan refuted all accusations. Last year he even claimed to have been suing a local Chinese-language weekly publication that alleged its investigations revealed that the value of Chen Che-nan properties has increased by NT$ 100 million in the last decade.

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