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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 March 2008, 16:32 GMT
Profile: Frank Hsieh
Taiwan's former Prime Minister Frank Hsieh is regarded as a combative politician and a skilful negotiator.

Frank Hsieh, 18/03
Mr Hsieh is credited with turning around the fortunes of Kaohsiung

The 61-year-old is standing for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in the presidential election - a party he helped to found.

Known for his sarcastic sense of humour, his presidential campaign included selling replica dolls of himself in Happy Taiwan - a three-store chain set up for the election season.

He also posted regular messages on Youtube in an attempt to attract the support of younger voters.

Mr Hsieh plays the ocarina - a small clay flute - which he often carries with him, and trained as a gymnast in his teenage years, but he is a lawyer by trade.

Educated in Taipei and Japan, he shot to prominence during the late 1970s, when he defended dissidents arrested during an anti-government rally in Taiwan's second city, Kaohsiung.

During the 1980s he filled various posts in Taipei's local government and moved up the ranks in the DPP.

But it was his two terms as mayor of Kaohsiung, from 1998 to 2005, that cemented his political reputation.

Some analysts credit him with transforming the port city of 1.5m people from a polluted, gridlocked urban sprawl to a greener and more liveable metropolis.

His own website trumpets his achievements: "Not only were problems of people's livelihoods and the city's severe political illnesses tackled one by one, he massively raised citizen's quality of life and sense of pride."

Mr Hsieh, a devout Buddhist, served as prime minister between February 2005 to January 2006.

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