Fri, Aug 10, 2007 - Page 8 News List

Hsieh must unify DPP to overcome weaknesses

By Paul Lin 林保華

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) is going to announce his running mate next week, after which the battle for the presidency will officially begin. I believe that this election will revolve around two main themes: national identity and governing accomplishments. Hsieh outshines his Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) rival Ma Ying-jeou in both these categories.

Ma knows that national identity is his Achilles heel. This is why all of his recent activities -- including amending the KMT charter, memorializing Taiwanese democracy pioneer Chiang Wei-shui (蔣渭水), his bicycle trip around the country and his "long stay" in central and southern Taiwan -- are meant to cover up his shortcomings in these areas and win votes by creating the feeling that he is "localized." But as long as he sticks to the goal of eventual unification with China, as long as he is afraid to harshly criticize the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) dictatorship, and as long as the word "Chinese" remains in the KMT's title, Ma will never be able to cover up his pro-China side.

Ma's administrative achievements are also a liability. Scandals over the city government's traffic maintenance and the Maokong Gondola have all dimmed his prestige as a leader in comparison to Hsieh's achievements as mayor of Kaohsiung. The only platform of government Ma has to offer is running mate Vincent Siew's (蕭萬長) advocacy for a full embrace of China. Ma's position that Taiwan should so enthusiastically engage a hostile country to develop its economy not only demonstrates his incompetence, but also puts Taiwanese in danger.

But Hsieh also has two weak points. The first is that the DPP does not have enough party assets to compete with the KMT on campaign spending. The second is that Hsieh doesn't have Ma's good looks to win over female voters. To overcome these weaknesses, the DPP has called for a referendum on the KMT's stolen assets to wake up the public. But this will only help these shortcomings slightly, not fix the root problems.

To win more votes, Hsieh should consider choosing a woman as his running mate. The DPP does not lack outstanding female talent. The pan-green camp is an active supporter of women's movements. If it wants to compete with Ma for the female vote, it should not miss this opportunity.

As for the DPP's election methods, I support Hsieh's call for "peaceful coexistence" with China to win swing voters. He should not go for a cut-throat battle. Grass-roots voters and politicians who identify with Taiwan are the target of this "peaceful coexistence" policy. It should be clear that this is not aimed at those politicians who want to cooperate with the CCP to oppress Taiwan. Whether or not China will be peaceful depends entirely on its attitude, especially toward the nearly 1,000 missiles it has aimed at Taiwan.

Hsieh's "peaceful coexistence" policy is complemented by his "Taiwanese reform" platform. Former president Lee Teng-hui's (李登輝) "peaceful revolution" was a reform movement. It obviously minimized the negative influences of a violent revolution, but it has left other problem that still have to be resolved, such as transitional justice. This will be a test for Hsieh in the future.

If the DPP wants to stay in power, it clearly needs to unify. Before it can peacefully coexist with the pan-blue camp, the DPP must peacefully coexist with itself. As the future leader of the pan-green camp, Hsieh should work to take on more responsibility. In the face of the "enemy," one should avoid helping one's foes by hurting one's friends.

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