Thu, Oct 06, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Is the DPP the new KMT?

Over the weekend, a group of young Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers launched a soul-searching campaign, urging the DPP to engage in introspection and to shift more of its attention to disadvantaged groups in line with the party's founding goal of pursuing social fairness and justice.

One of the initiators of the campaign, the DPP's candidate for the Taipei County commissionership, Luo Wen-jia (羅文嘉), said the aim of the "New DPP Movement" is to demonstrate to the nation that the DPP is embracing its old values and ideals -- freedom, democracy, equality and justice.

Luo, a protege of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), said that many of the grassroots supporters he met on the campaign trail were wondering whether the DPP has abandoned its ideals and principles. While the "New DPP Movement" has been met with suspicion and assertions that it is no more than a part of Luo's election campaign, there is no doubt that the DPP needs to re-examine its heart before it is too late.

After almost six years in power, the performance of the DPP administration has disappointed a number of pan-green diehards, with some gloomily wondering whether the DPP is losing its ideals and ability to improve itself. It has also alienated a large segment of the party's grassroots supporters, the very people who had helped to elect the then 14-year-old DPP in 2000.

Some supporters are beginning to wonder whether the DPP has turned into the equivalent of the old Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) regime it used to fight against -- a corrupt party leading a corrupt government. This kind of sentiment was especially prominent in the wake of the recent spate of scandals plaguing the DPP administration -- one of them being Kaohsiung's problematic MRT project. An Aug. 21 riot, ignited by Thai laborers protesting against their poor living conditions, unexpectedly brought to light a complex influence-peddling scheme in which ranking government officials apparently exploited Thai workers while pocketing money from the project's construction funds.

In the early days after the formation of the DPP, its members frequently attacked the KMT government with biting criticism for granting privileges to certain groups. They spoke of their hopes for reform with honesty and uprightness.

Back then, whenever they touched upon issues of national or civic unfairness, such as the special pension system for teachers, civil servants and military personnel, the DPP was full of fire, trumpeting social fairness and justice.

It has been almost six years since the DPP took power, but how many of the unfair regulations it criticized so severely back then have changed? What happened to the DPP's reform promises and its image of being honorable and free of corruption? Is there any difference between the DPP's current behavior and that of the late-era KMT regime? While it remains to be seen whether the "New DPP Movement" will be a boon or a liability for the DPP, it is clear that only by returning to its founding spirit and original goals will the party be able to represent the hopes of its supporters.

If the DPP remains the way it is now, it will no longer be fulfilling the purpose of its existence, and will have trouble getting the support of the voters it needs to hold power.

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