Ma's wife at centre of debate over her job at finance firm
A heated debate has broken out over whether Taiwan's next first lady, Christine Chou Mei-ching, should quit her job at a finance company following the victory by her husband, Ma Ying-jeou, in the presidential election on Saturday.
Dressed in her usual simple style, devoid of jewellery or brand-name products, Ms Chou took a bus and returned to work as legal affairs director at Mega Financial Holding as usual yesterday, although she was accompanied by security and greeted by supporters.
The smiling Ms Chou signed autographs and shook hands with supporters.
The only thing she said when bombarded with questions from the media who followed her was: 'Thanks, all of you, thank you.'
Staff at the company said Ms Chou, who has kept a low profile despite her husband's political career, had asked them not to call her the 'president's wife'.
'Everything is just like before, and we still call her director,' said Chang Yen-shan, the head of the company's public affairs department.
Seldom seen with make-up, Ms Chou has long been known for her insistence on pursuing her own career. She has rarely stepped into her husband's political domain or commented on current affairs, but she came under intense media scrutiny during the campaign.
She was regarded as an important factor in luring women and young voters, who appreciated her independence and simple lifestyle, to the Ma camp.
Views are divided in Taiwan as to whether she should quit to concentrate on her obligations as first lady.
A poll published in United Daily News found that 48 per cent of the 892 people interviewed on Sunday said there was no need for Ms Chou to quit, but 20 per cent thought she should.
KMT legislator Lin Yu-fang said he hoped Ms Chou could place national interests above her personal career. 'I think she should sacrifice a bit of her personal career for national affairs.'
He said as first lady, she would have a lot of obligations, which included receiving visitors to Taiwan.
But another KMT legislator, Shuai Hua-min, said Ms Chou could just give up any aspects of her job that created a conflict of interest.
'Forcing her to quit her job just because she's the president's wife is not something that a modern and democratic nation should do,' Mr Shuai said.
DPP legislator Yeh Yi-chin also said it was up to Ms Chou to decide whether to stay on - as long as there was no conflict of interest.
Taiwan's first families have often come in for intense media scrutiny, especially President Chen Shui-bian's family, which was embroiled in corruption scandals.
The health of Mr Chen's wife, Wu Shu-chen, who has been in a wheelchair since being hit by a vehicle in 1985, has also attracted much attention.