Liao urged to decide on election candidacy

Hsieh Kuo-lien, The China Post

The opposition People First Party (PFP) lawmaker Chin Huei-chu yesterday urged former Justice Minister Liao Cheng-hao to quickly decide whether he would run for the position of Taipei County chief in the year-end election. Chin made the remarks yesterday morning at a news conference, saying she is hopeful that the PFP, Kuomintang (KMT) and New Party (NP) can cooperate in defeating incumbent Taipei County chief Su Tsen-chang of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party. Liao, who served as the Justice Minister between 1996 and 1998, seemed to have been drumming up support for a possible run for Taipei County chief as an independent candidate, but he has never revealed his intentions in public. Chin said a couple of opinion surveys conducted recently showed that a large proportion of citizens in Taipei County, the largest county in Taiwan, are very likely to give their votes to Liao in the year-end election. As a result, Chin is hopeful that Liao could make a decision on whether to run as soon as possible. Liao’s ambiguous attitude over whether he would run has agitated many members of the three opposition parties, because KMT lawmaker Lin Chih-chia has spent years seeking the support of Taipei County citizens, while the PFP’s Chin Chin-sheng also announced his intention to run earlier this year. Chin Huei-chu suggested high-ranking officials with the PFP, KMT and NP should hold a primary before the opposition camp could make a final decision on its candidate. She said the person who emerges as the winner in the primary should be granted the support of the main three parties. Describing the primary as the most transparent measure to decide the opposition camp’s candidate, Chin said the primary would be the best way to resolve the dispute over the candidates. On July 6, Liao met with KMT chairman Lien Chan behind closed doors. Lien immediately gave his support to Liao. Meanwhile, the PFP chairman James Soong will very likely give Liao a hand in the year-end election, because Liao supported Soong in the 2000 presidential race.

Chin said Liao should not even try seeking the KMT and PFP leaders’ support by reaching an agreement with the two party officials behind closed doors. When the KMT was still the ruling party, many candidates for administrators or lawmakers were selected only by high-ranking KMT officials, a policy that angered many KMT members who described such a decision as one made in a “black box.” Chin stressed that at present both the KMT and the PFP ought to show respect for citizens’ opinions and the country’s democratic system. Lien Chan and James Soong have reached an agreement to jointly field administrator candidates in six cities and counties, including Taipei County.

The 55-year-old Liao became an associate professor of law at the Chinese Culture University in 1998 after leaving his position as Justice Minister. He gained a reputation for his determination and tough stance toward fighting corruption in politics.