Sun, Aug 09, 2015 - Page 3 News List

FEATURE: KMT’s candidate standing firm with fiery reputation

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Hung Hsiu-chu speaks at a press conference in Taipei on Thursday.

Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times

Deputy Legislative Speaker Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) was officially nominated by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) on July 19 as its presidential candidate at the party’s national congress.

It made sure that the process was without unexpected surprises, with the hall of more than 1,000 KMT representatives cheering and applauding immediately after KMT Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫) asked whether they agreed to her candidacy, as if to pre-empt any sound of disapproval.

Hung’s rise was not widely anticipated and was probably a surprise to her as well.

At first, she portrayed herself as “a brick to be tossed out to attract jade,” a ploy to draw the party’s A-list politicians into consideration, as there was a feeling that a KMT candidate was almost certain to be an also-ran in next year’s election.

Hung has since been praised among KMT supporters as “more intrepid than the men” and having the character of “a swordsman.”

Unaware of or having little concern for the masked discriminatory thinking underlying the remarks, she described herself as “having a heart more fiery than men.”

Time magazine introduced her as having a “diminutive stature and feisty manner,” mentioning her epithet of “Little Red Pepper.”

Hung is not only fierce within the party; she is aggressive when taking on political enemies.

“Shameless” was how Hung castigated former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) when he walked out on the KMT and founded the Taiwan Solidarity Union, while former premier Yu Shyi-kun was according to her “more servile than a dog.”

She got a slap from Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) for hurling a banner in the legislature that injured Kuan and the two sued each other for assault.

Her being called the party’s “Little Red Pepper” could also relate to her being the embodiment of a general image that Taiwanese students — former and present — have of a “director of student affairs and discipline” in school: A role that exists in essence to impose fear.

Hung was a school discipline officer during the 1970s — when martial law was still in place.

She was not recruited by the KMT until 1980 for her “eloquence,” and worked as a party official until 1990, when she joined a legislative race.

She has been a lawmaker since then.

It is not hard to see why she was recruited for her “eloquence.” Hung’s pronunciation of Mandarin is marked by its “standardness,” to the extent of being on a par with a CCTV anchor in China.

For Taiwanese, her accent strongly suggests a Chinese background; as if she was from a family who came to Taiwan with the KMT in 1949 after its defeat in the Chinese Civil War.

Hung’s father came to Taiwan in 1949, but was wrongfully accused in a “Communist bandit” case that broke out in the factory he worked in during Japan’s “Red purge” in 1950.

He was shipped to Green Island (綠島) where he was incarcerated for two-and-a-half years. He was out of job for 40 years due to the “stain” of the conviction.

Hung laid bare her humble background, with her mother being a factory worker to feed the family, when she delivered a nomination speech during the congress, in Hoklo (commonly known as Taiwanese).

“I have no hate for destiny; I harbor no grudges,” she said.

It was none other than an answer to a question many have posed about her support for the KMT regardless of the persecution her father suffered.

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