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DPP's Hsiao Bi-khim wins legislative seat in Hualien (update)

2016/01/16 21:46:03

Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴, second right)

Jan. 16 (CNA) The opposition Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP's) Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) on Saturday beat her opponents to claim the only legislative seat in the eastern county of Hualien.

It is the first time that a DPP candidate has won a legislative seat in Hualien, a traditional stronghold of the ruling Kuomintang (KMT), since Taiwan implemented the single-district, two-vote system in 2008.

The 44-year-old Hsiao defeated her main opponent, the KMT's Wang Ting-son (王廷升) by 11,983 votes, getting 53.8 percent of the vote to Wang's 43.6 percent.

Hsiao took on three rivals in the race: Wang, independent candidate Huang Shih-peng (黃師鵬) and Pan-Pacific E.P. Union Party candidate Yang Wu-kong (楊悟空).

It was the second time that Hsiao had run for a legislative seat in Hualien. In the by-election in 2010, she lost to Wang by over 6,000 votes.

Hsiao's victory ran counter to the presidential vote in the county, in which DPP presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) garnered only 37 percent of the total vote.

However, Hualien County's large aboriginal population, which leans toward the KMT, was able to vote in the presidential race but did not have a vote in the legislative race, voting instead separately for aboriginal legislators.

Hsiao, who has a master's degree in political science from Columbia University, has been an at-large legislator these past four years and previously served as a legislator from 2001 to 2008.

A prominent figure in the DPP's foreign policy and diplomatic circles, Hsiao has served as former president Chen Shui-bian's interpreter and advisor, chief of the DPP's Department of International Affairs, and secretary-general of the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats.

She is also deputy executive of the DPP think tank, the New Frontier Foundation, and a board member of the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy.

During this election, Hsiao vowed to improve Hualien's transportation, including the efficiency of its railways, highways and buses.

She also vowed to improve Hualien's tourism industry by increasing the quality of tourism for Chinese travelers, attracting more tourists from Southeast Asia, and increasing revenues for townships near the county's main attraction, the Taroko National Park, which is known internationally for its magnificent marble canyons.

Wang, the son of former Hualien County Magistrate Wang Ching-feng, (王慶豐) was seeking his third term as legislator. He was backed by the independent Hualien County Magistrate Fu Kun-chi (傅崐萁), who has strong local influence and close affiliations with the KMT.

(By Christie Chen; click here for the full coverage of the elections.)