Thu, Dec 15, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Chen and Lu need to grow up

"Grow up!" is the sort of thing you would say to a college student who was whining about missing his favorite TV program.

It's hard to imagine that you would need to say such a thing to the leaders of a country.

But as funny, or as sad, as it may sound, this is the exact phrase that comes to mind in light of the unseemly exchanges between President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) in the past couple of days.

Having accepted the nomination as interim party chairperson during a regular meeting of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Central Standing Committee last Wednesday, Lu abruptly announced her decision to resign from the post in a press release on Monday night.

While the row over the acting chairmanship seems to have abated somewhat as a result of Lu's decision yesterday to withdraw her resignation and accept her party comrades' calls for her to stay on in the post, the incident has led to much interest in the relationship between the president and the vice president.

It has been speculated that Lu initially decided to quit as interim party chairperson in response to a media report which claimed that the president had Jao Yung-ching (趙永清), a DPP caucus whip who was originally a member of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), in mind for the position and that Lu's nomination had caught the president off guard and disrupted his plans.

The cancelation of a routine meeting between Chen and Lu on Monday added to the speculation that the president was not in favor of Lu's decision to accept the position.

Saying that she had been willing to "endure all sorts of scathing criticism" since taking up the interim post because she had wanted to "bolster the battered party after the just-concluded elections," Lu in her Monday statement noted that she had decided to quit because she saw party reform as "a distant and elusive goal" and did not wish to make herself a sacrifice on "the altar of struggle" between various party factions.

Subsequently, Chen, in a statement issued late on Tuesday night addressing the turmoil that resulted from Lu's abrupt resignation the day before, stressed that he would not tolerate rumors suggesting that he was trying to control the party's decision-making process on major party affairs.

Apart from her very public differences with Chen, Lu's conduct since assuming the interim post has been quite refreshing as her positive demeanor has shown that the electoral defeat is not the end of the world for the party and she has done much to alleviate the gloomy atmosphere that had lingered over the DPP since election day.

In defense of Chen and Lu's unseemly behavior, it must be remembered that politicians, and even presidents, are human, and susceptible to emotions and weaknesses such as anger, jealousy and over-excitement.

However, as the Greek poet Alcaeus once said, "Language exerts hidden power, like a moon on the tides."

The nation's top two leaders might keep this ancient wisdom in mind if they want to avoid allowing their public rhetoric to turn the DPP's internal turmoil into a soap opera for the entertainment of the party's critics.

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