Thu, Oct 04, 2007 - Page 1 News List

DPP asks president to serve as party chairman

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Central Standing Committee yesterday settled on President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) as the next party chairman.

Presidential Office Secretary-General Yeh Chu-lan (葉菊蘭), who presided over the meeting, told reporters that the committee agreed unanimously to urge the president to double as party chairman.

Yeh said the party would hold an extraordinary Central Executive Committee meeting tomorrow to make the nomination official.

DPP Secretary-General Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said the party had made its stance clear, adding it was inconceivable that the president would reject the nomination.

Chen, who resigned as party chairman on Dec. 15, 2004, after the party's defeat in the 2004 legislative elections, was urged to take the helm once more after chairman Yu Shyi-kun quit late on Monday night.

Yu had initially offered to resign after being indicted on Sept. 21 for allegedly misusing his special allowance fund, but said on Monday his disappointment at the party's moderate "Normal Country" Resolution was his reason for stepping down. The resolution was passed by the party's national congress on Sunday.

DPP presidential candidate Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) said last week that holding a by-election would be an unnecessary burden, given that Yu's term was almost finished.

DPP policy states that its presidential candidate automatically becomes party chairman if he or she wins the presidency. The chairman's term then ends when the presidential term expires.

Yu was elected chairman in a by-election held in January last year. The election was necessary because former chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) had resigned on Dec. 3, 2005 to take responsibility for the party's poor performance in that month's local government elections. Su had become chairman after President Chen stepped down from the post in December 2004.

Chen's presidential term ends on May 19 next year.

Earlier yesterday, a joint statement endorsed by 25 DPP chapter directors was submitted to Lin, expressing their view that the president should lead the party.

When approached by reporters before yesterday's committee meeting, Yeh said the statement reflected the opinion of the DPP's grassroots supporters.

"We have to admit that we are facing a problem. That is, the legislative and presidential elections are approaching," she said, describing the president as the "glue" to keep the party united.

In a related development, the committee also decided to establish a task force to push amendments to the Referendum Law (公投法).

The law stipulates that a referendum proposal requires the signatures of 83,000 people, or 0.5 percent of eligible voters, to be passed.

The signatures of 830,000 people, or 5 percent of eligible voters, are needed for a referendum to be held.

Lin said the party hopes to lower the two signature thresholds, adding that the upcoming elections have made such amendments possible. He made the remark after meeting Iap Phok-bun (葉博文), chief executive of the Nuke-4 Referendum Initiative Association, at party headquarters.

At a separate setting yesterday, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said he would never serve concurrently as party chairman and president.

Additional reporting by Mo Yan-chih

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