Fri, Jan 20, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Su Tseng-chang excels at rebounding from defeat


Little more than a month after taking the fall for the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) worst ever poll defeat, Su Tseng-chang's (蘇貞昌) appointment as the new premier is testament to the popularity of a man tipped to run for president in 2008.

Eloquent, vibrant and aggressive, the 59-year-old is a former human-rights lawyer and popular co-founder of the DPP.

Nicknamed "light bulb" because of his small stature and lack of hair, Su graduated from National Taiwan University and worked as a lawyer for 10 years.

Like President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and outgoing premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), who resigned on Tuesday to take responsibility for the party's crushing defeat in last month's local elections, his move into politics was a reaction to a violent pro-democracy rally in 1979.

In the "Kaohsiung Incident," thousands took to the streets of Kaohsiung to demand greater political freedoms in the first public expression of dissent against the then Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government.

Hundreds of people, including 140 policemen, were injured in clashes between police and protesters and scores of opposition leaders, including Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), were rounded up and jailed.

Motivated by the injustices, Su began defending dissidents charged with treason before deciding to throw himself into politics. In 1981 he was elected to the now defunct Taiwan Provincial Council and re-elected four years later.

Su helped found the DPP in 1986 in defiance of a ban on new parties imposed by the KMT, which ended its half-century rule in Taiwan after the DPP won the presidency in 2000.

Su, a father of three, was elected as commissioner of Pingtung County in 1989, but failed to get re-elected in controversial polls four years later. He won a seat in the legislature in 1995 and became commissioner of Taipei County, the largest district in Taiwan, in 1997. He was re-elected in 2001.

Su was chosen to be Presidential Office's general-secretary in 2004 and was elected party chairman the following year. He resigned last month.

Su's popularity within the party has not wavered, as many felt he should not have taken the blame for the election defeat.

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