Taiwan Life in Brief – May 2018

MAKING THE ROUNDS - Former Premier Su Tseng-chang has begin campaigning as the DPP nominee for New Taipei City mayor in the November elections. (Photo: CNA)

Candidates Set for Year-end Elections

With only six months to go before the 2018 9-in-1 elections on November 24, candidates are solidifying their candidacies and campaigns. At stake are mayoral contests in all six of Taiwan’s special administrative districts, as well as 16 county mayoral races and hundreds of municipal councilor seats. The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) of President Tsai is widely expected to win big in the coming contest, less on the strength of the administration’s performance than on the lingering disarray in the Kuomintang (KMT), which is reportedly facing difficulty raising candidates for a number of races in the south where the DPP is particularly strong.

For Taiwan’s biggest race, Taipei City, the DPP is still considering whether to continue to back popular incumbent mayor Ko Wen-je or to back its own candidate. Former Vice President Annette Lu has shown interest in running.

The DPP nominated former premier Su Tseng-chang as its New Taipei City mayoral candidate, a position he once held as Taipei County magistrate from 1997 to 2004. Su was backed by the party despite widespread support among New Taipei City councilors for another former premier, Yu Shyi-kun. Su will face former new Taipei city deputy mayor Hou Yu-ih of the opposition KMT. Hou quit his job in February to focus on the KMT primary, and was declared the winner of the KMT poll on April 6. Hou is well-known for his previous career in law enforcement; he was Director-General of the National Police Agency from 2006 to 2008.

In Kaohsiung, DPP spokesman and former legislator Chen Chi-mai will seek to hold  longstanding mayor Chen Chu’s seat for the DPP against independent candidate Wu Yi-zheng. The KMT has yet to announce a candidate in the race.

COMING NORTH – Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen, right, hugs her new secretary-general Chen Chu, the former longtime mayor of Kaohsiung. (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)

Chen Chu Sworn in at Presidential Office

Long-time Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu was sworn in as Secretary-General of the Presidential Office on April 22. Chu served for 12 years as Kaohsiung City mayor, and under her administration Kaohsiung evolved from being Taiwan’s heavy industry center with serious resulting environmental problems, into a burgeoning center for lifestyle and tourism industries.

“I promise to give my best effort to help President Tsai Ing-wen govern the country,” Chen declared before being sworn in by Tsai.

Tsai personally requested that Chen take over the post from outgoing secretary-general Jason Liu, who has only been in the job since February. Deputy Mayor Hsu Li-ming will serve as Kaohsiung’s acting mayor until the municipal elections in November.

Chen Chu was one of the DPP leaders who came to prominence at the time of the so-called Kaohsiung Incident in 1979, when a Human Rights Day demonstration in the southern city led to a clash between dissidents and police. She was among those convicted of sedition and served six years’ imprisonment.

Formosa Invests in US $9.4 Billion in U.S.

The Formosa Plastics Group (FPG) announced April 23 that it had taken a major step towards realizing its planned US$9.4 billion petrochemical plant in the U.S state of Louisiana with the purchase of a 2,400-acre site in St. James Parish. The project is to be developed in two phases over 10 years and will be a major producer of ethylene, propylene, ethylene glycol, and associated polymers. The site was chosen to take advantage of booming natural gas production in the United States. Louisiana is the terminus of several major natural gas pipelines connecting Midwestern natural gas reserves to Gulf Coast terminals. Construction of the FPG project is expected to begin in 2019, subject to approval of permits.