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Ex-DPP lawmaker Trong Chai dies at 78
Chai was known as 'Mr.Referendum,' founded WUFI, FAPA and FTV
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-01-11 02:46 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Former Democratic Progressive Party lawmaker Trong Chai died early Saturday morning at the age of 78, more than three weeks after suffering a debilitating stroke.

Chai, who was also known as Chai Trong-rong, played a key role in Taiwan’s democratization, first founding several organizations during exile in the United States, and later campaigning for a referendum law and founding Formosa Television.

He was found unconscious by a maid at home on December 18 following a stroke. After having been moved to National Taiwan University Hospital in Taipei, predictions for a recovery were mostly negative. He died Saturday morning due to multiple organ failure resulting from the aftermath of the stroke, reports said. FTV officials said both his daughters had returned from overseas to be with him.

Leading members of the DPP immediately paid tribute to Chai, whose career as a democracy and Taiwan Independence activist spanned more than 40 years.

DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang praised him for having spent his whole life fighting for democracy, from overseas to Taiwan. “Today we have lost a comrade who fought with us for a long time, but we will always remember his insistence on his ideals and continue to try and realize those ideals he didn’t achieve,” Su said.

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng, a member of the ruling Kuomintang, described Chai’s passing away as “a loss to the nation” because of the numerous issues he was working on. He named the deceased opposition politician as the crucial force behind the passage of a referendum law, “an extremely influential law in the political history of Taiwan.” Wang also praised Chai’s part in the democratization of Taiwan and in relations with the United States.

He was born in Chiayi County in 1935, during the period of Japanese occupation. He graduated from the prestigious law department at National Taiwan University, a breeding ground for many of the country’s top politicians.

He became active in the Taiwan Independence Movement during political studies in the United States, which earned him a place on the KMT government’s blacklist.

Chai founded two key organizations in the US, World United Formosans for Independence in 1970 and the Formosan Association for Public Affairs in 1982. The latter still operates in Washington, D.C., and maintains close contacts with members of the US Congress.

Chai returned to Taiwan in 1990, joined the DPP and was elected to the Legislative Yuan from Chiayi. He was instrumental in pushing for the approval of a Referendum Act, even if the absence of a DPP majority meant the law was not as far-reaching as he wanted. His continuous protests and hunger strikes on behalf of the issue earned him the nickname of “Mister Referendum.”

Chai was also the main force behind the formation of Formosa Television or FTV, a media company which includes both a terrestrial service and a cable news channel. The station is known for its Taiwanese-language programming and for talk shows and interviews featuring prominent opposition leaders. He served as a chairman of the company for many years.

Chai ran for DPP chairman several times and served on its Central Executive Committee.

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