Su Tseng-chang wants Tsai Ing-wen as next Taipei magistrate

By Joe Hung, The China Post

Su Tseng-chang, a former premier who ran unsuccessfully for vice president, has availed himself of the celebration of the founding anniversary of the Democratic Progressive Party to boost the odds for standing for the nation’s highest office in 2012. He was the only former chairman of the opposition party who joined Tsai Ing-wen in cleaning the beach at Pali yesterday. The beach-cleaning was the finale of the party’s two-day anniversary celebration, postponed for a week by Typhoon Jangmi. Tsai, DPP chairwoman, had invited all former party chairmen, save President Chen Shui-bian, to take part in picking up garbage on the beach opposite Tamsui across the river. All except Su found alibis for their absence. Chen Shui-bian forced Su to play the second fiddle as Frank Hsieh’s running mate in the last presidential election. Su submitted under silent protest. He didn’t want Hsieh to beat Ma Ying-jeou, for it meant he would have to wait eight long years for his candidacy for president, if the DPP standard bearer won. The only one obstacle in Su’s way to presidency is the new chairwoman of the opposition party. An increasingly popular Tsai Ing-wen, who served as Su’s vice premier, is the most likely candidate to bear the DPP standard in the next presidential race.

In particular, she has the support of President Chen, who had to resign from the party for involvement in a money laundering scandal but still enjoys the allegiance of a large segment of the pro-independence rank and file. The best option open to the ambitious Su is to get Tsai elected magistrate of Taipei. All 21 cities and counties across the nation are up for grabs towards the end of next year.

Su was a two-time magistrate of the county of Taipei, the most populous one in Taiwan, before Chen Shui-bian made him chairman of the party. His power base in the county hasn’t much eroded, while Chow Hsi-wei, the current Kuomintang magistrate, is vulnerable. “That’s why Su wants to kick Tsai upstairs now,” a political observer said. Arrangements were made for distaff leaders of the party to request Tsai to run for magistrate of the county. She has to make a decision before the end of this year to ask for the nomination or stay on as head of the party. “Then,” the observer adds, “Su alone had to show up to shore up the support of Tsai Ing-wen for magistrate.” Tsai is between a rock and a hard place. Asked if she would run next year, Tsai said yesterday she had no such plan so far. If she accepts Su’s open invitation, she will have to give up hope for running against President Ma Ying-jeou, who certainly wants a second term. The first chairwoman of the opposition party wants to wait and see. Should Ma continue failing to muddle through the two crisis, the stock market crash and the tainted milk scandal, Tsai will turn down Su’s offer. She may agree to run for magistrate, if Ma succeeds.