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June 29, 2017

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Wife of James Soong dies of cancer aged 72

Viola Chen, wife of People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong, died of colon cancer yesterday. She was 72.

Soong, 70, is grief-stricken over the death of his wife, said PFP Legislator Lee Ching-hua, who confirmed the news during a TV interview.

Former Vice President Lien Chan was shocked by the news and later telephoned Soong to extend his condolences, a report said.

Chen died in a Taipei hospital at about midday, according to sources from the PFP.

Chen made her last public appearance in January this year stumping for her husband's presidential campaign.

Reports in May this year said that Chen was hospitalized for cancer treatment, but her doctor declined to reveal details about her condition. The reports said Chen was first diagnosed with colon cancer in 2006 and had five operations, but at the time her sickness was kept a secret as Soong was then running for Taipei City mayor.

Chen was a strong supporter of Soong throughout her husband's decades-long political career.

Soong was a rising star of the Kuomintang in the 1990s when he became the first and only popularly elected governor of Taiwan Province.

He broke with the KMT in 2000 after the party didn't nominate him for the presidential election. He mounted an independent bid, losing narrowly to Chen Shui-bian from the Democratic Progressive Party.

Soong then formed the PFP, with large numbers of followers defecting from the KMT to join him. He served as Lien's running mate in the 2004 presidential race, but again lost to Chen.

Soong only garnered 2.77 percent of the votes in the Jan. 14, 2012 presidential race.

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