Tue, Jan 24, 2006 - Page 3 News List

DPP's trusty spin doctor set to take the helm at GIO

LOQUACIOUS Famous for being quick-witted and suave, the outgoing DPP spokesman Cheng Wen-tsan will soon be taking his abilities to a new level

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

After years of being the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) spin doctor, outgoing DPP spokesman Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦) is set to take on the task of explaining the government's policies and polishing its image when he takes over as minister of the Government Information Office (GIO).

Cheng, 39, is the youngest member of the new Cabinet that has been assembled by premier-designate Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌).

A graduate of the department of sociology at National Taiwan University, Cheng was one of the leaders of the Wild Lily Students' Movement, which facilitated a chain of political reforms in Taiwan in the 1990s.

Cheng joined the DPP's biggest faction, the New Tide faction, in 1991 and later took charge of campaign advertisements and publicity for several DPP figures, including former chairwoman of the Council of Labor Affairs Chen Chu (陳菊), DPP Legislator Lin Chuo-shui (林濁水), former Minister of Justice Chen Ding-nan (陳定南) and Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮).

In 1998, after the New Tide faction called on younger party members to return to their hometowns and develop grass-roots support, Cheng was elected Taoyuan County councilor. But three years later, after a failed bid in the Taoyuan legislative election, Cheng chose to return to the DPP's central headquarters, where he became involved in the party's culture and information department.

Cheng served as director of publicity for the DPP's 2004 presidential campaign, coming up with resourceful responses to attacks and denunciations from opposition candidates.

After President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) re-election, Cheng became the DPP's spokesman and was promoted to director of the culture and information department. Because of Su's close ties with the New Tide faction, he frequently confided in Cheng, who is one of the faction's more powerful members. During Su's one-year term as DPP chairman, Cheng supplied Su with invaluable suggestions on handling the media.

Cheng is famous for being suave and quick-witted, and interacting well with reporters as DPP spokesman.

With his good memory and easygoing nature, Cheng is always ready with a clever response.

"I have used up three [cellphone] batteries in one day answering all kinds of questions pouring in from reporters," Cheng said at one press conference.

"And I'm proud that I'm able to relate to reporters what each high-ranking party official said in the central standing committee, precisely and without any exaggeration," he added.

In addition to being able to take charge of a news conference, Cheng is also one of the most popular campaign rally hosts, with an innate ability to get an audience excited.

Although the imminent closure of the GIO means that Cheng will be the last GIO Minster, he has a clear grasp about "what is news and what should be news."

"To articulate and elaborate on the government's policies and reduce misunderstandings between the governing party and opposition parties to the minimum will be my job," Cheng said.

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