Wed, Dec 15, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Chen stands down as DPP chairman

ELECTION FALLOUT The president accepted full responsibility for the DPP's failure to gain a legislative majority; he has been temporarily replaced by the caucus whip

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

With a deep bow and a slight sob, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday formally announced his resignation as Democratic Pro-gressive Party (DPP) chairman. DPP legislative caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) will serve as acting chairman until a new chairman is elected within six weeks by the party rank-and-file.

Chen announced his resignation in a speech prior to yesterday's DPP Central Standing Committee meeting.

Although a number of committee members wanted Chen to remain on the standing committee, Chen insisted on stepping down altogether, saying that he could not avoid responsibility for the DPP's failure to win a legislative majority on Saturday and that he should be entirely accountable for it.

Chen said he realized he had to serve as "a president that belongs to all of the people" and that he was willing to reconcile with the opposition parties and cooperate with them.

"It's not easy to swallow defeat and I felt very bad about it," Chen said. "No one likes such a feeling. However, it is a fact that we lost the elections even though the number of DPP's legislative seats actually increased."

Over the past two days, Chen said, he had reflected carefully on the situation and felt that successive victories had made the DPP over-confident.

Chen said that in 2000 the DPP had accomplished the first transfer of national political power in the history of the country, while in 2001 the DPP became the biggest single party after legislative elections, before retaining the presidency in March this year. All of this, Chen said, might have led the party to become conceited.

"Did these victories make us over-confident? Did we become too eager and too rash in our success?" Chen asked. "We really should undertake a thorough examination of campaign strategy and the issues we raised in the campaign."

During his speech, Chen seemed to sob briefly and at one point he stopped speaking altogether.

"The voice and choice of the people clearly told us that the DPP should be humble in its role as the ruling party and that the opposition parties should oversee government in a rational manner," he said. "Everyone should work together and not waste energy fighting one another, which I believe are the expectations of all the people of Taiwan."

Chen then bowed to DPP supporters, party members and defeated candidates as an expression of apology.

"I'm willing to set a good example, starting with my own behavior, and lead everyone toward reconciliation and cooperation," Chen said.

"Besides, the DPP's commitment to the people will never change," he said, adding that the DPP would stand by its commitment to make the country and the lives of the people better.

"We will never waver on insisting that democratic reforms continue and we will hold the political line of identifying with Taiwan. And we will continue to commit ourselves to turning Taiwan into a normal, progressive, beautiful and great country," he said.

"From this point on, I pledge that I will be a president serving all 23 million of the Taiwanese people. I'm very clear what the responsibilities and missions of my presidency will be for the next three years," Chen said.

"In my mind, there is only what is in the people's interest and differentiation between the blue [camp] and the green [camp] will exist no longer," he said.

After the central standing committee meeting, Chen said goodbye to party workers. Some cried out, "President, never be discouraged!" and presented bouquets to Chen, asking him to come back and visit them often.

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