Influential former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Lin I-hsiung (林義雄) unexpectedly said he would quit the DPP yesterday, citing his disappointment with the current political situation.
The move came as another public blow to a party still reeling from corruption scandals, factional infighting and an embarrassing defeat in last December's local government election.
Lin yesterday morning issued a public letter announcing his abrupt decision. In the letter, Lin said that he feels sorry to see the nation made increasingly unstable by ongoing fighting between political camps.
"Each election deepens cleav-ages between ethnic groups and social classes, and nourishes hatreds more than ever," Lin said. "Since I have no intention of engaging in party affairs and am not willing to campaign for any public office representing any political party, it does not make sense for me to be a member of the DPP."
"Therefore, I am choosing to ... never belong to any particular political party," Lin said.
Lin joined the DPP in 1994 and served as the party's chief counselor in 1996. In 1998, Lin was elected as the eighth DPP chairman and served as the party's campaign manager during its successful presidential campaign in 2000.
Lin has been viewed as the "divine leader" of the DPP because of his political faith. But the source of Lin's influence goes back to a notorious incident during the White Terror that came to be known as "the Lin Family Murder." Lin's seven-year-old twin daughters and his elderly mother were stabbed to death by unknown intruders in Lin's house, which was then on an alley off Xinyi Road.
The murders were widely believed to be politically motivated, since Lin had challenged the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) regime and was jailed for his participation in the 1979 Kaohsiung Incident.
In response to Lin's announcement, a shocked and puzzled DPP reacted by saying it would do all it can to persuade Lin to stay in the party.
"Former Chairman Lin's personality, patriotism and contribution to Taiwan's democracy have been recognized and praised by the public and all DPP members. Although the DPP is surprised at his decision, it will do its best to persuade him to stay," DPP secretary-general Lee Yi-yang (李逸洋) said in a press release.
Acting Chairwoman Annette Lu (
During the DPP chairpersonship by-election campaign, Lin several times openly criticized newly-elected DPP chairperson Yu Shyi-kun in letters and remarks. He blamed Yu for setting a bad example in democratic politics by running for the party chairpersonship when he should have taken responsibility for the DPP's thumping defeat in the Dec. 3 local government elections.
Late in the day, Yu issued a statement in reaction to Lin's withdrawal from the party. Yu said that Lin's choice indicates that the DPP has to strive to recapture the party's founding spirit and faith, and that he will seek Lin's advice on leading the DPP and improving the nation's development if he has a chance to visit Lin.
"No one wants former chairman Lin to leave, and we hope he can stay with us to tackle the party's reconstruction," Yu said. "But I understand that Lin is a man with a strong will and he will not change the decisions he makes."