Mon, Jul 02, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Newsmaker: Fiery first daughter still managing to drop jaws

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Despite being well-known for her sharp tongue, first daughter Chen Hsing-yu's (陳幸妤) fiery criticism of her father-in-law last week still managed to be jaw-dropping.

The Taiwan High Court on Tuesday rejected the appeal of Chen's husband, Chao Chien-ming (趙建銘), and his father, Chao Yu-chu (趙玉柱), increasing their prison sentences and fining them each NT$30 million (US$916,000).

Chao Chien-ming's sentence was lengthened by 12 months to seven years' imprisonment. Chao Yu-chu received a 14-month extension to his sentence, meaning he must now serve nine years and six months.

The following day, Chen, fuming with anger, told reporters camping outside her workplace that her father-in-law should "go kill himself" if he does not have the guts to take responsibility for what he did.

If her father-in-law continues to be a coward, she said, then "he is not a man."

Chen's comments drew mixed responses from the public. Some criticized her for setting a bad example by publicly admonishing her father-in-law. Others said her fury was excusable because she was a victim revealing her suffering. Still others appealed to the media to show sympathy for the mother of three, who works three jobs to support her family.

The 31-year-old Chen is a dentist specializing in orthodontics. She was married to Chao Chien-ming, an orthopedist, in 2001, a year after graduating from National Yang Ming University.

She went on to receive a master's degree from National Taiwan University in 2005.

Chen is known for her frustration at being hounded by reporters. Upset by paparazzi snapping pictures of her at her college graduation, Chen hit one of them with her mortarboard.

She has demonstrated on numerous occasions that she is a woman who does not mince words.

Angered by an allegation that she was pregnant at the time of her wedding, she confronted reporters camping outside her workplace, telling them to "use your brain and think!" and pointing out that the allegations did not add up.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lan Mei-ching (藍美津) said that Chen takes after her mother, first lady Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍), whom Lan described as "direct, passionate and optimistic."

"They are both candid individuals who know their own mind," Lan said.

She said that Chen was brought up in a family where she could express her opinions freely and challenge authority.

Lan has developed a close relationship with the first family since her husband and President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) were sent to jail in 1986. Chen Shui-bian was sentenced to one year in prison for libel for publishing an article in the pro-democracy Neo Formosa magazine magazine, in which he said that later New Party legislator Elmer Feng (馮滬祥) had plagiarized others in his doctoral dissertation.

Chen Shui-bian was sent to jail not long after Wu was discharged from hospital after an assassination attempt. Wu was paralyzed from the waist down after she was run over by a truck in what is widely believed to have been a politically motivated act. That same year, she ran in the legislative election and won.

Growing up in a political family has made Chen Hsing-yu hate politics, said DPP Legislator Yeh Yi-chin (葉宜津), who is close to the first family.

Yeh recollected an incident that occurred when Chen Hsing-yu was in the second grade.

She said Chen Hsing-yu came home from school distressed one day, rushing to her room. Wu came in to find out what had happened and found her daughter crying. The seven-year-old told her mother that one of her best friends at school had told her that she did not want to be her friend anymore because her father was a bad person and in jail.

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