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Ex-DPP lawmaker's death saddens friends, former colleagues

2014/01/11 17:08:41

Taipei, Jan. 11 (CNA) The death of former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chai Trong-rong is a loss for Taiwan, Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng said Saturday.

Chai, a strong advocate of Taiwan's democracy and independence, died of multiple organ failures at National Taiwan University Hospital early Saturday morning. He was 78 years old.

"It's a loss for the country, because Chai had many political ideas and goals that he wanted to pursue," Wang told journalists.

Wang said Chai helped push for legislation on the Referendum Act, which played an important role in Taiwan's political development.

Also, Chai contributed a lot to Taiwan's democratic movement and the development of Taiwan-U.S. relations, and to the DPP as well, Wang said.

The veteran politician was rushed to the hospital on Dec. 18 after he was found unconscious at home. Diagnosed as having suffered a hemorrhagic stroke, he was rushed into emergency surgery.

However, Chai never regained consciousness after surgery and was declared dead Saturday.

Correcting its earlier report that Chai died after his two daughters agreed to have his life support removed, the Formosa Television (FTV), which Chai co-founded, said there was no such consent.

"The life support was not removed. It was a natural death," FTV vice president Wang Ming-yu said.

No date has been set for a memorial ceremony, she added.

Known as a hard-line pro-independence activist, Chai served six terms in the Legislature during a 19-year period from 1993 to 2012. He was a member of the DPP's Central Executive Committee.

On Saturday, the DPP's legislative caucus and Chai's domestic and foreign friends also expressed regret over the loss.

The DPP's Legislator Hsu Tain-tsair said he regretted that Taiwan's political sector has lost a "real man" who would choose what's good and hold fast to it.

Meanwhile, in Washington D.C., the Formosan Association for Public Affairs' (FAPA) President Mark Kao expressed condolence over Chai's death, praising him for his efforts in promoting Taiwan's democracy and freedom.

FAPA is a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit organization, which Chai and several Taiwanese pro-independence activists co-founded in 1982 to seek worldwide support for Taiwan's independence and for the interests of Taiwanese people.

Calling Chai a pioneer of democracy, Kao said the politician's devotion to making Taiwan a better country has won him the respect of Taiwanese people and the U.S. Congress.

U.S. Representative Steve Chabot (R-OH1), who chairs the Asia-Pacific subcommittee of the House Committee of Foreign Affairs, also mourned Chai's death. Chabot called Chai a friend and a Taiwanese who loved his country passionately.

(By Kelven Huang, Chen Wei-ting, Sabine Cheng, Tony Liao, Y.F. Low
and Elizabeth Hsu)