Mon, Nov 28, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Chiayi City could be ready

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Twenty-three years since the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lost power in Chiayi City, Saturday's election presents what is widely regarded as the best chance the party has had for a long time to win back the city. A tough fight is in store for the Democratic Progress Party (DPP) if it wants to keep control of this traditionally anti-KMT city.

According to assessments made by both camps a week before the elections, Mayor Chen Li-jen (陳麗貞), the DPP candidate, and KMT Legislator Huang Ming-hui (黃敏惠), are running neck-and-neck.

Lin Hung-chan (林宏展), a spokesman at Chen's election headquarters, told the Taipei Times yesterday that Chen was lying just 3 points behind Huang according to a recent DPP poll, while KMT spokeswoman Cheng Li-wen (鄭麗文) regarded the DPP's evaluation as "very optimistic to say the least."

"Huang has been in the lead for quite a while and she remains a stable frontrunner as she has good grass-roots support," Cheng said.

Four years ago, as an independent candidate, Chen easily beat the other four candidates with 44.84 percent of the vote, compared to 34.71 percent for the KMT candidate, Chiang Ching-hsien (江清馦), and 12.04 percent for the DPP's Huang Cheng-nan (黃正男).

Chen's victory also marked the first time that residents of Chiayi had elected a candidate who was not part of Hsu Shih-hsien's (許世賢) family, the so-called "Hsu Band" (許家班), since Hsu, the first female mayor in Taiwan's history, was elected mayor in 1982.

In the 2001 mayoral race, Chen was deputy mayor. He succeeded Chang Po-ya's (張博雅) as mayor after Chang was called into service as part of the DPP Cabinet.

Chen then joined the DPP in 2003 and won the party's primary election this May. Her transition from "Hsu Band" member to DPP candidate has inevitably diminished the influence of the "Hsu Band" in the city over the past few years.

Chiayi is said to be the only city in the country where local politics are still dominated by independent factions rather than party factions.

Hsu's legacy remains strong though and was an obvious factor for Chang Po-ya and Chang Wen-yin (張文英), both Hsu's daughters, when they ran for and won the mayorship a total of four times.

Hsu, who served as a member of the first Chiayi City council before going on to serve four-terms as a provincial assemblywoman during the era when the former KMT government repressed those fighting for democracy, helped earn the city the title of "a sanctuary of democracy."

Despite the fact that the DPP's involvement in recent scandals has not harmed Chen's campaign, appealing to the public as a defender of the city's democratic traditions will surely gain Chen more support, Lin said.

Chiayi City candidates

* Chen Li-jen

* Democratic Progressive Party

* Year born: 1958

* Education: Masters degree in environmental medicine, Chinese Medicine University

* Positions held: Director-general of Environmental Protection Bureau of Chiayi City; Director of Department of Health of Executive Yuan; deputy mayor of Chiayi City; mayor of Chiayi City.

* Huang Ming-hui

* Chinese Nationalist Party

* Year born: 1959

* Education: Executive MBA, National Chiayi University

* Positions held: Teacher at Taipei Municipal Zhongshan Girls' High School; National Assembly Representative; legislator

Source: Taipei Times

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