When you think of the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU), you inevitably think of former president Lee Teng-hui (
Having earned a PhD in education from the University of Northern Colorado, Huang started his teaching career at National Taiwan Normal University's department of education. There he penned many publications that are today regarded as must-reads by local education majors.
It was as a member of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) that Huang first became politically active. He did not immediately stand out, however, maintaining a fairly low profile for the past two decades.
While it is easy to find biographies of politicians such as Vice Premier Tsai Ing-wen (
This is in spite of the fact that the 70-year-old TSU chairman has held major government and party positions.
In the early 1980s, when Lee was the governor of Taiwan Province, Huang was the education minister.
Huang stepped down in 1983 to take the heat off Lee after a building collapsed at National Feng-yuan Senior High School, killing 26 teachers and students.
Since then, Huang's life and career has been closely connected to that of Lee's. He is considered Lee's closest aide and most trusted subordinate.
During Lee's term as president (1990-1996), Huang doubled as a minister without portfolio in the Cabinet and chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC).
Huang's hard work yielded brilliant results in 1993 in the form of the first official cross-strait dialogue -- the Koo-Wang Talks in Singapore.
During the intensive three-day talks between late Straits Exchange Foundation chairman Koo Chen-fu (
Four agreements related to administrative matters were signed in what was seen as a thawing of cross-strait relations.
Huang was promoted to minister of the interior the next year and became Lee's secretary-general of the Presidential Office in 1996 after Lee won the nation's first direct presidential election.
In 1999, the last year of Lee's term as KMT chairman, Huang became KMT secretary-general and was put in charge of former KMT chairman Lien Chan's (
Lee was obliged to resign his chairmanship the next year to take responsibility for Lien's defeat in the election to President Chen Shui-bian (
Today, Lee and Huang are almost inseparable. Whenever Lee is in need, Huang is usually there to offer a helping hand. Huang's acceptance of the TSU chairmanship is a perfect example of this.
The party was hard-hit by its failure to secure five seats in last December's city councilor elections and urgently needed to find a capable chairman to replace Shu Chin-chiang (蘇進強), who resigned after the elections. Lee made several phone calls to Huang, who was on vacation in Koh Samui, Thailand, and told him that 19 out of 21 TSU Central Executive Committee members were in favor of him becoming the party's new chairman.
"I told [Lee] that I was enjoying life with my family. I was quite happy with my lot [as vice president of Taiwan Advocates]," Huang said in a gathering with the press after his inauguration.
But as Huang explained, the frequent calls from Lee and visits from TSU members persuaded him to change his mind.
Huang says that "shouldering responsibility" and "transcending the old TSU" are his two major goals.
By announcing that the party would adpot a "left of center" stance, Huang has attempted to move away from the "blue" versus "green" political dichotomy.
"The TSU will become a party which looks after the middle class and the minorities," Huang told attendees of the party's annual assembly last month.
The TSU's new position is something of a gamble, but one that is probably necessary if the party is to survive the year-end legislative elections.
"Huang might be testing the Taiwanese election `market' by shifting the party left of center," said Ku Chung-hwa (
"But such a move is risky because Taiwan does not have a strong left-wing tradition," Ku said. "People may also doubt that the TSU, a party which used to mainly advocate the pursuit of Taiwanese independence, can really serve the needs of the middle class and minority groups."
Ku added that whether or not the TSU's pursuit of social democracy could be effective in easing the political wrangling between the pan-green and pan-blue camps would become clear after the legislative elections.
Shih Cheng-feng (
Shih said that voters' dissatisfaction with their standard of living could be key to the TSU's chances.
Taiwan Solidarity Union chairman
Date of Birth: Nov. 8, 1936
Place of Birth: Yunlin County
Party affiliation: Formerly Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT); currently Taiwan Solidarity Union
Academic Background: PhD in Education from University of Northern Colorado.
August 1975 to July 1978 National Taiwan Normal University Department of Education chairman;
Early 1980s to 1983 Taiwan Province education minister;
June 1990 to December 1994 Minister without portfolio;
June 1991 to December 1994 Mainland Affairs Council chairman;
December 1994 to June 1996 Minister of the interior;
August 1996 to November 1999 President Office secretary-general;
November 1999 to March 2000 KMT secretary-general;
February 2001 to September 2001 Broadcasting Corp pf China president;
January 2002 to May 2005 Presidential aide:
June 2002 onwards Vice president and secretary-general of Taiwan Advocates;
January 2007 onwards Taiwan Solidarity Union chairman
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