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Cablegate: Local Views of New Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu's Performance

VZCZCXRO1207
PP RUEHCN RUEHGH
DE RUEHIN #0741 0920147
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 020147Z APR 07
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4731
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 6589
RUEHGH/AMCONSUL SHANGHAI 0967
RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU 1801
RUEHSH/AMCONSUL SHENYANG 5771
RUEHGZ/AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU 0141
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 7835

UNCLAS TAIPEI 000741

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AIT/W, EAP/TC, INR/EAP

FROM AIT KAOHSIUNG BRANCH OFFICE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV TW
SUBJECT: Local Views of New Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu's Performance

REF: 2006 TAIPEI 4168

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED

1. (SBU) Summary. The Kaohsiung City Mayor Chen Chu (DPP) has
served at her new post for three months as of March 25. Up to now,
City Government employees and the public are generally neutral
toward their new mayor. While many KMT City Council members
privately hold a negative opinion of Chen Chu, an opinion
exacerbated by the recent controversial removal of the Chiang
Kai-shek statue, the dynamics of her public relationship with the
Kaohsiung City Council will only become clear once the official City
Council sessions start on March 30. End summary.

2. (U) The most notable event of Mayor Chen Chu's tenure so far has
been the removal of Chiang Kai-shek's statue from the Kaohsiung
Culture Center, which occurred on March 13. The local media
described the removal as "shabby and sneaky" as there had been no
public discussion, nor any consensus reached within the City
Council. During the removal, some pan-blue elected officials,
Legislators, City Councilors and their supporters made a show of
trying to stop the removal but were blocked and dispersed by a
contingent of 500 police officers.

3. (SBU) A Kuomintang (KMT) official told AIT/K that they believed
that the controversial action was recommended to President Chen by
the Southern Taiwan Society (a group that advocates Taiwan
independence, see reftel) during the President's last visit to
Kaohsiung. Many people interpreted the removal as an effort to
please local Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) supporters.
However, many people and most local media did not agree with the
secretive and hasty way the city government carried out the statue's

SIPDIS
removal.

4. (SBU) This KMT official went on to say that since the removal of
the statue defaced government property and was done without the
approval of the City Council, the KMT would urge its City
Councilors to protest (note: the Speaker of City Council Chuan
Chi-wang is a KMT member). As a result of the removal, the City
Council held a two-day supplemental session on March 26 and 27 to
look into whether the city government had violated any regulations
by removing the statue. The DPP Councilors attending the session
wore T-shirts emblazoned with "justice for the 228 Incident victims"
to show their support for the city government. Mayor Chen stated in
the session that the removal of the statue was not intended to cause
ethnic conflict but to look after the interests of all groups while
pursuing transitional justice and fair treatment for all ethnic
communities.

5. (SBU) One DPP official told AIT/K that Mayor Chen probably was
trying to impress people with her quick and decisive way of doing
things. And in fact, many DPP supporters did applaud her for this
accomplishment after having been in office for only three months.
Jason Hu, Director of Kaohsiung's Economic Development Office,
however, told AIT/K that Chen Chu generally feels overwhelmed by all
her duties. Apparently, he said, Chen Chu anticipated having less
pressure in this job than in her previous position as chairperson of
the Council of Labor Affairs, but she may now be growing worried
about getting in over her head given the broad scope of her duties
here along with the possibility of a deteriorating relationship with
the City Council.

Comment
-------

6. (SBU) Mayor Chen has kept a low profile during her first three
months in office, even when facing the City Council. In a recent
speech, she emphasized that she has been striving hard to craft
policies to boost Kaohsiung's economic development. Her statement
indicated that she understands that boosting the economy, not
political action, is her major task if she wants to increase her
support in Kaohsiung City.

THIELE

WANG

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