Wed, May 24, 2006 - Page 8 News List

DPP's last chance of regaining public trust

By Liu Kuan-teh 劉冠德

On his sixth anniversary of coming to power, sorry seems to be the hardest word for President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

A series of allegations of misconduct and scandals implicating members and relatives of the first family, the Presidential Office and the DPP have severely damaged the image of Chen and the party.

The failure to develop a constructive Taiwan-China relationship, rejuvenate a slowing economy as well as lower the crime rate have all contributed to sending the approval rating for the president and the DPP government to a historical low.

This is undoubtedly the greatest crisis of Chen's presidency. It also signifies deteriorating support from the DPP's rank and file. The pan-blue opposition's irrational boycott of everything Chen proposes has ceased to be a legitimate excuse for the government's poor performance.

Checks and balances by the opposition are part of the political process, and it is up to voters to decide whether they make sense. However, at a time when the presidency is under attack, the most lethal wounds are coming from the rear.

For instance, speculation is rife that Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) would like to "delink" himself from Chen in the face of the scandals surrounding the president. Another example is the barrage of criticism from DPP legislators against the president's son-in-law, Chao Chien-ming (趙建銘), for his alleged role in an insider trading scandal.

What's even worse is the exchange of political barbs between Su's camp and former premier Frank Hsieh's (謝長廷) staff, not to mention the controversy over the DPP's nomination procedure for the Kaohsiung City mayoral election.

The party is not only facing an internal power struggle but also a potential breakdown of morale. But is there really no way out?

The decline in Chen's popularity and support for the DPP can only be attributed to their own faults and failures, and not that the pan-blue opposition is doing a better job.

Just look at how Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) handled the indictment of his friend and associate, Keelung Mayor Hsu Tsai-li (許財利), for bribery. Hsu faces a possible eight-year prison sentence for corruption. While some demanded that Ma apologize for endorsing Hsu's re-election bid last year, the KMT chairman only expressed regret over Hsu's indictment, but insisted that the KMT would not revoke Hsu's party membership unless he was found guilty. Ma added that an indictment was not equivalent to being proclaimed guilty.

Ma's poor handling of Hsu's indictment displayed a lack of determination to eliminate the KMT's association with black gold politics. Hsu was re-elected largely because of Ma's personal recommendation. The public deserves a better explanation of how Ma could have endorsed such a corrupt official.

In criticizing the first family's alleged misconduct as a disgrace to the nation's dignity, Ma also owes the public an apology and explanation for the immoral behavior of his party members.

It is imperative for DPP members to stop pointing fingers at each other. Let the judicial branch handle these alleged improprieties. The party as a whole should unite and incorporate stricter discipline to uphold its integrity.

In the face of China's divide-and-conquer strategy, it is also important for the DPP government to stay firm and to remind the public of the motive behind Beijing's schemes. This is the DPP's last chance to introduce a pragmatic and responsible strategy to deal with Beijing's united front strategy, while at the same time rebuilding its image and regaining the public's confidence.

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