Sun, May 13, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Su Tseng-chang's political fortunes change rapidly

AFP , TAIPEI

Outgoing Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) was considered to be the frontrunner in the ruling party's primary for next year's presidential election when he announced his bid three months ago.

But following an acrimonious primary, Su conceded defeat after his main opponent, former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), scored a landslide victory last Sunday and stepped down as premier less than a week later.

Eloquent, vibrant and aggressive, Su, 59, is a former human rights lawyer and a co-founder of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

Su graduated from National Taiwan University and worked as a lawyer for 10 years before moving into politics.

Like President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Hsieh, his move into the political arena came as a reaction to a violent pro-democracy rally in 1979.

Dubbed the "Kaohsiung Incident," thousands took to the streets of the southern city to demand greater political freedom in the first public expression of dissent against the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government.

Hundreds of people, including 140 police, 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 injustice surrounding the incident, Su began defending dissidents charged with treason before deciding to enter politics himself. 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.

The DPP, which won the presidency in 2000, ended the KMT's half-century rule of the nation.

Su, a father of three, was elected as Pingtung County commissioner in 1989, but failed to get re-elected in controversial polls four years later.

He won a seat in the Legislative Yuan in 1995 and became Taipei County commissioner, the largest constituency on the island, in 1997. He was re-elected in 2001.

Su was chosen as Chen's chief of the staff in 2004 and was elected DPP chairman the following year.

He resigned in December that year as chairman to take responsibility for the DPP's defeat in local elections.

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