Former lawmaker Chu Hsing-yu dies in motel at 57

Kaohsiung, Feb. 18 (CNA) Former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chu Hsing-yu, known for his outspokenness and fiery temper, was found dead in a motel in Kaohsiung Monday at the age of 57. Police said they found Chu, who quit politics in 2003 after having served four terms in the Legislature, lying alone in a bathtub when they arrived on the scene after receiving a distress call from motel staff. Chu was not breathing and did not have a heartbeat, but he was still rushed to a nearby hospital, said the city's Sanmin police precinct. There were no signs of fighting at the scene, but two empty wine bottles and some dishes were found in the motel room. Police speculated that Chu might have suffered a acute heart attack. "We have asked prosecutors to conduct a postmortem examination and investigate the exact cause of his death," said a Sanmin precinct spokesman. Chu, the son of a blue-collar worker, made a fortune on his own after working odd jobs when he was young. He began his political career as a borough chief in Kaohsiung's Gushan District. His good rapport with people at the grassroots level helped him win a seat in the Kaohsiung City Council twice and a legislative seat four times in a row. Former DPP Kaohsiung City Councilor Chen Kuang-fu said he was saddened by Chu's abrupt death. "Chu was known to have many friends at the grassroots level because he was a very straightforward and passionate man," Chen recalled, adding that Chu's personality helped him secure a smooth political career. His fiery temper, however, also made him a controversial figure on and off the legislative floor. His DPP membership was suspended several times for either assaulting a hotel employee while drunk or for improper acts in the Legislature. Chu renounced his DPP membership in 2003 after his proposal to end cash rewards for tax officials who contributed to detection of tax evaders was blocked by the DPP, which was in power at the time. He also did not seek reelection after his fourth legislative term ended later that year. Chu left politics after that and lived alone in a large house in Kaohsiung's Guanyinshan mountain area. He changed his abrasive style and became a Christian, dedicating himself to spreading the Gospel at one time. But media reports said he later gave up his Christian calling, and friends who saw him recently said Chu sometimes felt depressed for unknown reasons. Chu never married and did not have any children. He reportedly had been staying at the motel since Feb. 13 and was scheduled to meet an aide at 8:30 a.m. Monday. (By Chen Chao-fu, Wang Shu-fen and Sofia Wu)