Sun, Mar 03, 2002 - Page 1 News List

Calls grow for Chen to head DPP

PARTY CHAIRMANSHIPThough many say Chen Shui-bian should take up the post as the DPP's leader, the president would rather stay out of internal party politics

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER

A growing number of senior DPP members think President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) should serve as the party's chairman, a source in the Presidential Office said yesterday.

But Chen isn't enthusiastic about the idea and would rather play the role of a mediator who transcends party lines, the source said.

DPP members want Chen to take up the party's helm, saying that with the president in the position, the party can better coordinate policy-making with the government.

In addition, the president is the only one with the ability to unite bickering factions within the party, they say.

According to the Presidential Office source, Chen plans to modify a negotiation mechanism set up to mediate between the government and the DPP. He also plans to replace a nine member policy-making task force with a group consisting of 30 members.

"Many DPP heavyweights have suggested that Chen lead the DPP," the source said. "They argue that due to a lack of suitable candidates, the position of DPP party chairman has gradually become too weak to enable the chairman to unite factions within the party."

But the president -- with the power and resources that his post commands -- can effectively lead the party, the source said.

DPP Chairman Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) and lawmaker Shen Fu-hsiung (沈富雄), leader of the party's Justice faction, have said they hope Chen will take up the post.

Shen, who recently met with Chen, also said the president hopes the DPP will adopt internal reforms to better adjust to its role as a ruling party.

"I suggested to President Chen that he serve in both positions as president and DPP chairman, and I feel that he's increasingly willing to consider this option," Shen said.

But aides close to the president said Chen would not address the issue for now and would devote his attention to the formation of his 30-member policy-making group.

"President Chen trusts Premier Yu Shyi-kun and they communicate very well together," the aide said.

"In any case, Chen said before coming to power in May 2000 that he wished to serve as a `people's president' rather than as a `DPP president,' and he pledged not to get involved in DPP affairs."

Yao Chia-wen (姚嘉文), a senior advisor to the president, also opposed the idea of the president serving as party chairman. Yao, who has expressed interest in the DPP chairmanship, said the president should act as a mediator who operates beyond party or organizational loyalties.

"We discussed the issue once, during a high-level meeting at the Presidential Office last month," Yao said, adding that most members thought it was inappropriate for Chen to serve as the DPP's head.

Some within the party say that calls for Chen to act as chairman are signs of trouble within the DPP that need to be addressed.

"The fact that party heavy-weights are pushing the president to take up the chairmanship indicates they are dissatisfied with him for his refusal to share resources with them," said Kao Chih-peng (高志鵬), a DPP Central Standing Committee member.

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