The political infighting started by the resignation of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Yu Shyi-kun and the negative effect this had on presidential candidate Frank Hsieh's (謝長廷) campaign has sabotaged DPP unity.
Initially, Yu offered to step down on Sept. 21 for allegedly misusing his special allowance fund.
However, after his failure to convince other DPP leaders to accept a "Normal Country" draft resolution that "the nation should correct its name and write a new constitution as soon as possible," Yu resigned and accused other DPP big shots -- including President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) -- of chickening out on matters of name rectification and on rewriting the Constitution.
Yu expressed his dissatisfaction over a modified version accepted by all other leaders which suggested that the nation should "accomplish rectification of `Taiwan' as soon as possible and write a new constitution."
Yu's maneuvering is aimed at furthering his own personal interests at the expense of the party's effort to retain power in the next presidential election.
First, Yu's more radical approach would further endanger US-Taiwan relations.
The US has reiterated its warning to Chen that his plans to hold a referendum on using the name "Taiwan" to join the UN is an apparent move to unilaterally change the cross-strait "status quo" and is therefore a violation of US policy and Chen's commitment to not change Taiwan's national title hold a independence referendum.
In response to US pressures, Chen has argued that the referendum does not amount to changing the national title or seeking independence.
Using the name "Republic of China" would have violated his "four noes" pledge instead, he said. Chen is well aware of the seriousness of his "four noes" pledge.
But if the DPP had passed the original version of the resolution proposed by Yu and his supporters, it would have put Chen in a dire situation.
Not to mention that with Chen taking over the DPP chairmanship, it would have been very hard for him to justify his stance while reacting to US pressures.
He would have no choice but to implement the party resolution of changing the national title to "Taiwan."
Second, Yu's insistence would also have had a negative impact on Hsieh's campaign which centers on reconciliation and coexistence with China.
In order to win over swing voters, Hsieh has introduced a moderate and bipartisan strategy as a way of broadening his appeal.
Endorsing Chen's referendum agenda has displayed Hsieh's strong determination to safeguard the notion of "Taiwan-centric" consciousness.
Hsieh has also recognized the importance of writing a new constitution in the near future in accordance with constitutional procedure.
Therefore, the new resolution passed by party representatives will have a huge influence on Hsieh's policy.
Judging by how the international community -- and especially the US -- would likely have responded to Yu's version of "one resolution," it is necessary for Hsieh to stick to his guns.
Finally and most importantly, it is Hsieh who won the DPP primary and obtained the presidential nomination.
What made Yu's resolution even less legitimate is the fact that he lost to Hsieh by a wide margin in the primary.
Why should a winner of the primary have accepted a resolution manipulated largely by a loser?
The whole fiasco must stop now.
To win the support of the majority, the DPP must stand firm on guarding Taiwan's independent sovereignty and demonstrate responsibility and unity.
Liu Kuan-teh is a Taipei-based political commentator.
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