Wed, Jul 20, 2011 - Page 8 News List

DPP should live up to billing as progressive

By Allen Houng 洪裕宏

The Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) list of legislator-at-large candidates might have made some people lose the great hope they had for DPP Chairperson and presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文). These people believed that with her non-typical and idealistic personality, Tsai could replace President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and forge a new path for the nation’s future. However, now mostly people who are angry and disappointed in her can be heard.

Amid factional struggles within the DPP, Tsai momentarily lost the sensitivity that in the past has allowed her to feel the hopes of Taiwan’s society. Although the list of legislator-at-large candidates has already been decided by the DPP’s central committee, Tsai has to hurry up and regain her wits and composure, and reorganize the roster to revitalize progressive forces and win back the support of the average voter.

During its eight years in the presidency, the DPP in many ways failed to meet social expectations. The result was that two progressive forces — social movements and intellectuals — distanced themselves from and attacked the DPP, almost to the point of giving up entirely on the party. The Ma administration’s incompetence and neglect of democratic values and human rights have made the nation yearn for a change in government.

This atmosphere is reflected by how social movements and intellectuals are once again willing to side with the DPP. This change in attitude springs from the new hope that Tsai, with her fresh approach, has given everyone.

Tsai must understand why social movements and intellectuals are so critical of the DPP’s list. The reason is simple: The forces for social progress still pin their hopes on Tsai and believe she has the ability to re-engineer the DPP.

Tsai must respond to those who have strongly criticized the DPP’s list. She must also avoid engaging in rhetorical games.

It is asinine for people within the party to speak out against the legislator-at-large list and even go on talk shows and make ambiguous accusations against other party members. Doing so weakens the force of criticism from various sectors of society and takes social pressure off Tsai. This could cause her to miscalculate and think that these issues are simply power struggles within the DPP.

The various DPP factions should show more ambition and avoid getting caught up in arguments over a few spots on the legislator-at-large list. Faction leaders should remove their friends from the “safe list” — the top 16 places on the list. Those who keep speaking out should think about how they can enter the Cabinet after the DPP wins the election.

The safe list should be made up of socially progressive people who are not members of the DPP, as well as experts and academics. This is Tsai’s last chance to win back the support of social movements and intellectuals. It is also key to assuring that the DPP regains power.

Allen Houng is a professor at National Yang-Ming University’s Institute of Philosophy of Mind and Cognition.

TRANSLATED BY DREW CAMERON

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