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Penn Law alums elected to Taiwan’s parliament

January 21, 2016

In January, two Penn Law alumni were elected to the parliament of Taiwan; Wan-an Chiang LLM’04, L’06 and Chiao-hui Su LLM’07 will be freshman legislators when they take office next month. Both are among the youngest members of Taiwan’s legislature and won in an election in which young voters were unprecedentedly important. 

The election came against the backdrop of the 2014 “Sunflower Movement” which saw students occupy Taiwan’s legislature in protests targeting an agreement for liberalizing trade in services between Taiwan and the Mainland. The protests were driven by concerns about what the accord might mean for the economic future of Taiwan’s already economically anxious youth and by discontent over the way in which the agreement was negotiated and was being hurried through the legislature.

“I am proud and delighted to see two of my students begin their promising careers in government,” said Jacques deLisle, Stephen A. Cozen Professor of Law, Professor of Political Science, and Co-Director of the Center for Asian Law. “Wan-an and Chiao-hui are both terrifically bright and public-spirited young people. Their constituents — and people in Taiwan more generally — are fortunate to have such able and dedicated representatives. They are among the many reasons to celebrate and be hopeful about Taiwan’s robust democracy.”

Chiang and Su won as candidates of the two major opposing parties. A candidate of the currently ruling party, the Kuomintang (KMT), Chiang won his district in Taiwan’s capital, Taipei, despite a near-landslide win for the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Su won her seat in a district just outside Taipei and will be part of the new DPP majority in the legislature.

Both Chiang and Su are members of prominent political families in Taiwan. Chiang is the son of a former vice premier, foreign minister, and member of parliament (Chiang Hsiao-yen) and the descendant of two presidents of the Republic of China. Su is the daughter of a former premier, DPP chairman, and vice presidential candidate (Su Tseng-chang).

Chiang is among the few Penn LLMs to go on to earn a JD at Penn and has practiced law in the United States, including at the law firm of Wilson Sonsini. After finishing her LLM, Su continued her studies in the SJD program before returning to Taiwan to work on public interest causes and as a lawyer. 

Chiang and Su are also part of a tradition of U.S.-trained lawyers in high positions in government in Taiwan, including the soon-to-step-down President Ma Ying-jeou, and his successor, President-elect Tsai Ing-wen.