Sun, Aug 05, 2007 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Hsieh, Ma's positions remain fra

As the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) was wrapping up negotiations with the People First Party over representation in overlapping legislative districts, there was some hand wringing at the pan-green camp over the legislative districts that still have to be settled between Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) candidates.

Some modest progress was made on Friday. The TSU softened its stance against using often inaccurate and controversial opinion polls, saying they could be used in case negotiations fail. While the road ahead will be bumpy, both parties have no recourse but to cooperate lest they be blamed for breaking off discussions and splitting the pan-green camp.

Even as the DPP-TSU teamwork inches forward, DPP Chairman Yu Shyi-kun's unveiling on Wednesday of a draft resolution on ``normalizing'' Taiwan has highlighted some undercurrents of disunity within the DPP itself. DPP presidential candidate Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), who during a trip to Washington recently faced tough pressure from US officials over his backing for the DPP's proposed UN referendum , now faces another litmus test.

Yu's motivations for the timing of the resolution are unclear. His claim that normalizing Taiwan "cannot wait any longer" -- just months before the elections -- is unconvincing.

It is possible that Yu is simply trying to drum up support from the deep-green base, which was displeased with Hsieh's promise to Washington not to hold a referendum on independence. But there is a strong note of sour grapes in Yu's wording.

Yu's assertion that "politicians should not only think about the next election" but also "the next generation" implies he understands that the resolution puts Hsieh in an uncomfortable spot. Moreover, the draft resolution's stated aim to "destroy the myth of a constitutional one China" seems to be targeted at Hsieh.

Hsieh has responded, somewhat testily, that elections are important too, and his comments in Hualien on Friday have been interpreted as criticisms of Yu's leadership.

There has been speculation within the DPP that Yu may be positioning himself in case Hsieh is indicted on corruption charges. With the DPP so far resisting the urge to amend a "black gold" exclusion clause in its party charter and former premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) denying any interest in running for president, it is possible Yu sees himself as the heir apparent.

Yet despite all the consternation in the DPP over the KMT's appearance of unity, possible destabilizing factors still loom. Foremost will the upcoming verdict on Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) trial.

On Friday, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) squirmed out of another possible offer to head Ma's campaign. For a politician without a lot of star power and who has undermined the party's claim to promote ethnic harmony by questioning the KMT's legitimacy as a ruling ethnic elite, Wang has been repeatedly wooed by a KMT intent on locking him into the campaign in a position subservient to Ma. But Wang has craftily dodged and delayed, all the while avoiding making direct comments about his presidential aspirations. The KMT seems worried that he could cause trouble if he smells weakness following a Ma conviction.

For all their talk about unity, both parties have undercurrents of disharmony that could upset their carefully laid plans. Given the right catalyst in either camp, the elections could look very different next year.

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