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Chen Chien-jen introduced as Tsai Ing-wen's running mate (update)

2015/11/16 17:50:43

Taipei, Nov. 16 (CNA) Opposition Democratic Progressive Party presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Monday introduced Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁), an epidemiologist and vice president of Academia Sinica, as her running mate in the 2016 presidential election.

Chen, 64, is best known for his role in the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in Taiwan in 2003, when he headed the Cabinet-level Department of Health (now called the Ministry of Health and Welfare).

Tsai said Chen has showed his leadership during the campaign against SARS and proved to be an effective communicator and coordinator.

"Some said having Chen Chien-jen will be a plus for the campaign but I truly believe that Chen is a person who will be a plus for the country," Tsai said in announcing Chen as her running mate.

The DPP presidential candidate said she was deeply impressed by the composure and calmness Chen demonstrated during the SARS outbreak. That composure "can be a big, steady force in calming an uneasy society down," she said.

Tsai described Chen as a public asset of the country, having not only served in the DPP government when it was in power from 2000 to 2008 but also as an important consultant to the party when it was not in power.

To participate in the election, which Tsai is regarded as a virtual shoo-in to win, Chen tendered his resignation as Academia Sinica vice president and as a distinguished research fellow in its Genomics Research Center.

Chen, an independent, was head of the Department of Health from May 2003 to January 2005 and then led the National Science Council (the predecessor of the Ministry of Science and Technology) from 2006 to 2008.

He holds a Sc.D. in epidemiology and human genetics from Johns Hopkins University in the United States.

His early research focused on hepatitis B, and he was one of the first people in Taiwan to promote across-the-board vaccinations against the disease, which is widespread in Taiwan.

(By Sophia Yeh, Tai Ya-chen, Kuo Chung-han and Elizabeth Hsu)