Tue, Oct 11, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: The DPP must root out corruption

Yesterday's Double Ten Day marked the sixth National Day since the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) came to power in 2000. In his address, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) told the nation, "We may say that the new government formed in 2000 was born to carry out reforms and that it exists to realize fairness and social justice. These missions represent the most solemn mandate from the 23 million people of Taiwan, and they embody the true meaning of the historic transfer of power between political parties."

Chen is right. After almost 50 years of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) rule, the DPP was elected because the Taiwanese hoped that it could replace the KMT's corrupt government with a cleaner one and bring a new vision to the nation.

Unfortunately, the DPP seems to have run out of steam. It faces a swelling tide of criticism, mostly focusing on Chen's changeable China policy and his failure to achieve major political and economic reforms. He has made a number of inappropriate appointments, and the deadlock between the governing and opposition camps remains unresolved. As a result, support for the government has plunged.

The government's predicament is due to a number of factors, but the biggest problem is a lack of clear direction on major policies. For example, despite China's military threat, Chen failed to condemn trips to China earlier this year by opposition leaders. On the contrary, he even asked People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) to deliver a message to Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤), saying that the two sides should try to start peace talks. This has seriously damaged Chen's reputation and support among party members and the public.

Moreover, the DPP is stuck at the stage of appointing people as a reward for their campaign contributions rather than on merit. This has created a culture of political sycophancy, and it is only natural that such officials will not enjoy high public esteem. After all, government is about effectively implementing policy and opening up new horizons -- not missions that any old party hack is equipped to carry out. Some of these people may even be tainted by involvement with financial organizations.

The DPP must therefore broaden the avenues through which it makes appointments. It can no longer confine itself to thinking only about what is advantageous to the party. Otherwise there will be a dearth of talent within the government, and this will give the opposition even more scope to boycott government policies.

When the DPP was elected, many hoped that it would eliminate the corrupt practices that were such a routine part of KMT rule. Now, the DPP faces scandals over corruption within the Financial Supervisory Commission and the hiring of Thai laborers to work on the Kaohsiung MRT. The party's motto, "With the green camp in power, quality is guaranteed," is now being questioned.

The public is calling for the government to harshly punish those implicated in corruption, regardless of their status or position. Chen himself affirmed this goal yesterday. Hopefully he means what he says, and will prod his party to judge such cases by the highest ethical standards. He must at all costs avoid following the KMT's example of whitewashing such incidents. For if he does, the people of Taiwan will lose faith in him.

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