Sat, Apr 08, 2000 - Page 1 News List

Taiwan's independence party runs out of steam

END OF THE ROAD Party officials say that with Chen Shui-bian's victory in the presidential election, the hardline independence party has fulfilled its historical mission

By Liu Shao-hua  /  STAFF REPORTER

Lee Chen-yuan, left, founder of the Taiwan Independence Party, and the party's former Secretary General Wei Jui-min, walk out of the building after announcing their decision to withdraw from the party.

PHOTO: GEORGE TSORNG, TAIPEI TIMES

Twenty-three founding members of the Taiwan Independence Party (TAIP) quit the party yesterday to support President elect Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) of the DPP.

Speaking on behalf of the group, former TAIP chairman Lee Chen-yuan (李鎮源), an Academia Sinica member, announced their secession from the party yesterday and urged Chen to lead the independence movement.

"Chen won the presidential election. The TAIP has finished its historical mission. It is not necessary to stay in a withering party and dissipate the power for Taiwan's solidarity," Lee told a news conference.

Lee Sheng-hsiung (李勝雄), a former TAIP secretary-general, said that leaving the party was a personal decision for those concerned.

"While we hope to disband the TAIP, we still respect the other party members who disagree with this," he said, adding that Lee Chen-yuan had already brought up the question of the party's future before the election.

The TAIP also nominated its current chairman, Cheng Bang-chen (鄭邦鎮), as the party's presidential candidate, but could not muster enough support in a signature drive to get his name on the presidential ballot.

While leaving the TAIP, both Lees said there was no need to join the DPP, though they would cooperate with the party.

Lee Chen-yuan also said he was willing to take on the position of national policy consultant should Chen invite him.

"If Taiwan needs me, I will accept [the position]," He said.

The news conference was, however, adjourned early as a result of the vociferous protests of party members who slammed the actions of the two Lees.

"You come and go at your will. Do you think we are just trash?" one angry TAIP supporter shouted.

At a TAIP news conference yesterday, Cheng Bang-chen said he was sad about the decision of the 23 to leave the party, but would not speculate on their real motivation. He said that he hoped they were not "chopping off the head of the TAIP to please the newly-elected government in expectation of being recruited."

The TAIP was founded in October 1996. Most of the party's founding officials were former members or supporters of the DPP at the time. The TAIP has played only a marginal role from the outset, largely because of the lack of political organization and promotional skills on the part of its leadership of academics.

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