Tue, May 14, 2013 - Page 8 News List

DPP must directly confront issues

By Lin Cho-shui 林濁水

Instead, he set off under his own steam for an ice-breaking visit to China.

He also made an effort to sell the idea to the US, thinking that his best strategy would be to market his proposal abroad before promoting it in Taiwan.

As to the DPP’s fundamentalists and former premier Yu Shyi-kun (游錫堃), they also declined Su’s invitation to take part in the committee, because they were worried about the direction that Su has been taking.

Former DPP chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), who seemed uncertain about Su’s policy orientation, was also not very interested in taking part.

These people’s reluctance meant that the committee could not play the role of a platform for communication on China policy within the party.

Worse, it gave outsiders the distinct impression that the DPP was split because of its inability to decide on a China policy.

After a lot of cajoling, Tsai and Yu agreed to join the committee.

Hsieh also changed his mind and agreed to take part, after strong urging from a group of DPP mayors and county commissioners headed by Greater Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) and Greater Tainan Mayor William Lai (賴清德).

No doubt Hsieh’s decision to join the committee is a good thing, considering his failure to mobilize support for his initiative within the DPP, and the lack of support for his effort to sell his “constitutions with different interpretations” idea overseas, still less market it in Taiwan.

Thanks to these recent developments, the DPP at last seems to be moving toward a convergence with regard to its China policy.

However, getting people together is merely a precondition for convergence.

A more fundamental condition for consolidation would be a degree of common understanding with regard to new cross-strait policies.

Policy convergence is a fundamental requirement. If the people involved just sit down together, but cannot find a common ground on policy questions, then society at large will not perceive the party as having any fresh direction or a new climate.

When cross-strait questions crop up, the public may once again see different people and factions grabbing their trumpets and playing their own discordant tunes, exposing the division within the party.

Over the last five years, the KMT has also faced tricky problems and disputes over adjustments to its cross-strait policies.

The fierce exchange that took place not long ago between supporters of Ma, who also serves as KMT chairman, and Lien laid bare this reality.

Nevertheless, while Ma has been preoccupied with domestic issues, he maintains a firm guiding role on the KMT’s policies regarding the US, Japan and cross-strait ties, and has adjusted them as he sees fit.

In comparison, the DPP has so far only managed to get senior figures from various factions to sit down together in its China Affairs Committee, while the tougher job of getting their policy orientations to converge has not even started.

The only way forward for the DPP is to boldly face up to tough questions, not to keep evading them as it has in the past.

Lin Cho-shui is a former Democratic Progressive Party legislator.

Translated by Julian Clegg

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