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Taiwan Health Minister considering run in Hualien election

Taiwan Health Minister considering run in Hualien election

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Department of Health Minister Yeh Chin-chuan said Wednesday he was considering a bid for Hualien County Magistrate but only if he did not have to take part in primaries.
Incumbent magistrate Hsieh Shen-shan reaches the end of his second and final term at the end of the year, but the ruling Kuomintang has not yet found a candidate for his succession.
Yeh told reporters Wednesday he would decide by the end of the month whether to run or not. The KMT Central Committee had first enquired after his intentions a week ago, he said.
The minister said the people of Hualien should accept him, and he hoped there would be no murderous competition between KMT candidates, indicating he would not run in primaries that might divide the party.
KMT lawmaker Fu Kun-chi, widely seen as the frontrunner among five candidates, said Yeh was as well-known national health figure, but that without maintaining long-term contacts with the local grassroots, it would be difficult to translate that fame into voter support. Hualien was not Taipei, so it was unlikely the media could just create a new popular politician, Fu said. Yeh once taught at a local university, but is not a native.
The lawmaker also said that it might be difficult making the transition from being a member of the central government to serving as a local chief executive and pushing local policies.
Yeh denied it was President Ma Ying-jeou who was behind the idea, instead naming KMT Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung. Yeh has been known as a Ma confidant for a long time, serving as vice mayor of Taipei when Ma was the mayor. A bid of his own to succeed Ma in 2006 failed.
Having Yeh go and run for Hualien County Magistrate was not a bad choice, but the KMT needed to hold negotiations for another one or two weeks before it could find an acceptable solution, Wu told reporters.
Yeh has recently rated high scores in opinion polls as one of the most popular members of the Cabinet, partly because of his image as the chief campaigner against SARS, melamine-tainted food products from China and H1N1. He also represented Taiwan at the World Health Assembly in Geneva last May after it won observer status under the name of “Chinese Taipei.”
An editorial in the Chinese-language United Evening News Wednesday suggested the choice of Yeh would show that the KMT valued winning local elections more than reforming the troubled national health insurance system.
Yeh himself denied accusations that he was running away from his job, saying a new generation of specialists was ready to tackle issues like health reform.


Updated : 2021-02-27 15:20 GMT+08:00