Sat, Sep 12, 2015 - Page 5 News List

Yu Chen museum open to public

‘TAIWANESE MATSU’:Yu Chen Yueh-ying served four years as provincial councilor before becoming a national legislator and Taiwan’s first female county commissioner

By Su Fu-nan and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Former minister of the interior Yu Cheng-hsien on Monday points at a wedding photograph in Kaohsiung’s new museum commemorating his mother, Yu Chen Yueh-ying, who was the nation’s first female county commissioner.

Photo: Su Fu-nan, Taipei Times

A museum for Yu Chen Yueh-ying (余陳月瑛), commonly called the “Taiwanese Matsu” (台灣媽祖婆), was officially opened at the Yu family residence in Kaohsiung’s Chiaotou District (橋頭) on Thursday.

Yu Cheng-hsien (余政憲), her son and Ba Gua Liao Foundation chairman, said that the museum has collected numerous photographs of his mother and documents her transition from housewife to a political figure.

The museum also catalogues how Taiwanese women have become a part of the national political sphere, he said.

Born in 1926 in Kaohsiung’s Yancheng District (鹽埕), Yu Chen was the youngest of 11 children.

Her family was considered well- off as her father, Chen Tsai-hsing (陳再興), was the owner of a mechanical products factory and a sugar factory.

Yu Chen once said that she expected to marry a doctor or a college professor, but quite unexpectedly, her family agreed to a matchmaker’s proposal for her to marry into the Yu family.

At the time of the marriage, her husband, Yu Jui-yen (余瑞言), the son of Yu Teng-fa (余登發), was studying law at National Taiwan University (NTU).

Yu Chen’s transition from housewife to politician began in 1963, during the election for the Taiwan Provincial Council. Yu Teng-fa said that the female candidate from the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) must not be allowed to win the guaranteed seat for women and thus support KMT members in the council.

The Yu family asked Yu Chen to run as a candidate three days before the registration deadline. She won the seat with 48,000 votes, and went on to serve as provincial councilor for four terms.

In 1981, Yu Chen ran for Kaohsiung County commissioner, but lost to the KMT’s Tsai Ming-yao (蔡明耀) by just over 3,000 votes.

Undaunted, she set her sights on the Legislative Yuan and was elected a legislator in 1982.

In 1985, Yu Chen ran for Kaohsiung county commissioner again and won by 30,000 votes to become the nation’s first female county chief.

Though the Yu family has always been a part of the Kaohsiung political scene, it reached its peak under Yu Chen and the family’s political influence in southern Taiwan remains unmatched to this day.

Yu Chen died last year at the age of 87. She is credited as the founder of the Kao Ying Industrial Commercial Vocational High School, the Kao Yuan Vocational School and what is now known as Kao Yuan University.

The museum is open to the public 10am to 5pm on Sundays.

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