Thu, Feb 17, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: The DPP must not forget its roots

Former Presidential Office secretary-general Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) became the 11th chairman of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) on Tuesday. Both former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), the spiritual leader of the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU), and People First Party (PFP) Vice Chairman Chang Chao-hsiung (張昭雄) attended the ceremony. The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) only sent the deputy director of its Policy Committee, Cheng Feng-shih (鄭逢時). Several TV talk shows mocked the KMT's lack of magnanimity, saying that KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) has yet to emerge from the shadow of his defeat in the 2004 presidential election.

Perhaps Lien just didn't want to be reminded about his own job. Although he has repeatedly claimed he will step down when his term as chairman expires in August, he has remained tight-lipped about a transition of power.

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) has been evasive when asked whether he will seek the job, saying that he would only consider it if Lien officially announces that he will not seek re-election. Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), however, has already thrown his hat in the ring. Ma also suggested that the party relocate its headquarters to southern Taiwan in order to "closely listen to the voice of the people in the south." Whether his proposal was simply a political maneuver or not, it would certainly be blessing if voters in the south are more highly valued.

After Su assumed the DPP leadership, he said he would rely on action and interaction to maintain the DPP's position as a party able to touch the hearts of the people. "Action" is not something the DPP has ever lacked. The biggest obstacle to the DPP retaining that position is the different roles that parties in government and in opposition are expected to play.

While in opposition, the DPP sympathized with the poor and pushed for democracy. When looking at the DPP's development, it is hard to forget the many magazines established in the 1980s by Kang Ning-hsiang (康寧祥) and others in the tangwai (outside the KMT) movement. At the time, the martial law Garrison Command's censorship forced young intellectuals to hide such magazines, which promoted liberal democracy and international intellectual trends.

The DPP's firm support for and love of Taiwan were closely connected to environmentalism, and the workers' and farmers' movements, including efforts to inspire a greater cultural consciousness among indigenous peoples as part of the localization movement. It spoke for minority groups. Its members carried out forceful protests despite the risk of being sent to prison.

Obviously, it is not in the nature of environmental interests, labor groups and groups for the disadvantaged to be led by a ruling party, but at the same time, a ruling party must not sacrifice the interests of the people by compromising with established interests. Pushing for direct links amounts to toadying to capitalists intent on exploiting the China market, and risks the future of this nation's workers. If the DPP aims to please the capitalists and forgets its obligations to its grassroots supporters, then it is clearly a party that has been corrupted and lost its way.

If the DPP wants to touch the hearts of the people, then it must rekindle the flame of idealism, so that this flame can light the way for a new generation of intellectuals. Compromise may be politically expedient in the short term, but it could cause supporters to desert. The suggestion that the KMT move its headquarters south is not new, but it is something that the DPP could learn from. The south is the center of agricultural production and traditional industries, the core of the workers' and farmers' movements, and therefore also the fount of Taiwan consciousness.

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