Tiananmen dissident to run in Taiwan parliamentary by-election

Tiananmen dissident to run in Taiwan parliamentary by-election

TAIPEI - A leading dissident who fled China after pro-democracy protests were crushed in 1989 said Monday he would stand for Taiwan's parliament in hopes of dealing a "big blow" to Beijing.

Wuer Kaixi, who has been barred from the mainland since fleeing after the bloody Tiananmen crackdown, said he was looking forward to the opportunity to stand in a by-election early next year.

"If I can get elected to Taiwan's parliament, it would be a big blow to the Chinese communists who have been making every effort to suppress democracy," the 46-year-old told AFP in a phone interview.

"It would be a huge humiliation to the Chinese communists... it would also let them know that it's time for them to face the people but not to buy rich businessmen like those in Hong Kong."

Pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong accuse the government of the semi-autonomous Chinese city of being too close to Hong Kong's tycoons.

Wuer unveiled his plan on his Facebook page, saying that "after cautious consideration I have decided to run in the legislative by-election in Taichung".

The by-election in the city is to fill the seat vacated by Lin Chia-lung from the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Lin was elected mayor of Taichung, beating the incumbent mayor Jason Hu of the Beijing-friendly Kuomintang party (KMT) in Saturday's local polls.

"It's glorious to stand up," said Wuer in what he termed a "critical moment in history".

Wuer said he had previously been reluctant for financial reasons to stand for parliament in Taiwan, which has been his home since 1996.

"But the success of Ko Wen-je really inspired me to take on the huge challenge," he said.

Independent candidate Ko, 55, a doctor from National Taiwan University Hospital, thrashed his rival Sean Lien from the KMT in the Taipei mayoral race.

The contest last Saturday was part of the biggest series of local elections ever held in Taiwan on the same day.

The KMT were routed at the hands of the DPP.

While on the campaign trial Ko, a political novice, tried to attract voters fed up with fierce political battles between the KMT and the DPP by assuring them of an efficient and clean government in the capital.

Lien, the son of a former vice president, urged electors not to vote for Ko whom he described as a diehard independence supporter.

Wuer, who has no political affiliation, said he would model his campaign on Ko and drum up support from volunteers and the Internet.

"Lots of volunteers have pledged to help me in campaigning," he said. "Some said they would like to offer offices as my campaign headquarters."

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