Campaign season for next year’s legislative elections got an early start yesterday, as two human rights lawyers from the New Power Party (NPP) announced their bid to enter the race.
The duo from the activism-based party — freshly launched less than a month ago — announced their intentions to challenge incumbents in seats where the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has traditionally performed strongly.
Attorney and professor of law Hu Po-yen (胡博硯) is to face off against the KMT’s Chang Ching-chung (張慶忠) in New Taipei City’s Zhonghe District (中和), while lawyer Chiu Hsien-chih (邱顯智) is to face off against the KMT’s Lu Hsueh-chang (呂學樟) in his hometown, Hsinchu City.
As members of the Judicial Reform Foundation, both candidates have a proven track record of commitment to issues related to social justice and have defended prominent social activists in cases related to social movements.
Hu served as attorney for Hualon Corp workers in their campaign to demand their unpaid pensions, as well as attorney for former freeway toll collectors. Chiu is among the lawyers defending Sunflower movement protesters after 119 supporters of the movement were indicted on Tuesday last week.
Both lawyers worked on the case of the death of Hung Chung-chiu (洪仲丘), a 24-year-old army corporal whose death in the military led to a series of reforms to the military judicial process.
The two candidates said their decision to run for office was inspired by their belief that the law should be put into action toward social reform.
Chang gained notoriety last year after he rammed through a proposed cross-strait service trade agreement within 30 seconds, which later triggered the Sunflower movement.
“Zhonghe residents have dubbed Chang Ching-chung ‘Zhonghe’s King of Motels’ for his success in the motel business,” Hu said, adding that Chang should “stick to what he does best” and stay out of legislative efforts.
Chiu blasted his opponent Lu of a string of atrocities, including discriminatory remarks toward members of the gay community during a campaign to legalize same-sex marriage.
Lawyer and NPP founding member Lin Feng-jeng (林峰正) said the party would soon announce a second wave of candidates following the Lunar New Year holiday, which begins on Thursday.
By law, a political party must nominate a minimum of ten district legislative candidates in order to nominate legislator-at-large candidates.
The NPP stirred interest when it announced its plan to nominate its legislator-at-large candidates through a novel online voting mechanism.
While the party has vowed to attain at least 100,000 online supporters to register on its Web site by the end of next month, they have so far attracted less than 6,000 as of press time last night.
National Taiwan University professor Fan Yun (范雲) is expected to lead a second group of social activists and academics to create a separate activist party next month — reportedly named the Social Democratic Party — due to the group’s irreconcilable differences with NPP members.
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