Local Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) politicians yesterday protested the party’s handling of a controversy relating to its legislative nominations for Greater Tainan.
Including DPP legislators, local councilors and senior party members, 10 supporters of embattled legislative nominee Wang Ding-yu (王定宇) called on the party’s Central Executive Committee to abide by the results of the party primary that was held two months ago.
Wang, a Greater Tainan councilor who narrowly beat Legislator Lee Chun-yee (李俊毅), was involved in a high-profile charity scandal that he has labeled as “political manipulation” masterminded by his defeated opponent.
A DPP disciplinary committee earlier this month said the row tarnished the party’s reputation and imposed a six-month probationary period on Wang, as well as a two-month period for Lee.
The disciplinary measure makes it difficult for Wang to accept the nomination unless the ruling is revoked.
“It’s unacceptable that Wang’s nomination has been put on hold because of slander accusations, despite the fact he won the primary,” former Tainan County commissioner Mark Chen (陳唐山) said, speaking in support of Wang alongside two DPP legislators and three local councilors.
Chen has been rumored to be considered a possible candidate if both Wang and Lee fail to be nominated on schedule. However, Chen has rejected the idea, saying that it would upset the party’s nomination process and run counter to the result of the primary.
“If [the DPP] violates public opinion, then it is bound to fail,” Chen said.
The controversy suggests that damage control efforts by DPP officials have largely failed thus far.
A DPP spokesperson said “vigorous negotiations and discussions” between Wang, Lee and the party have been continuing since last Wednesday.
DPP spokesperson Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said a team was also reviewing the DPP charter since Wang’s case was unique because he was placed on probation after winning the legislative primary, but before the party’s executive committee confirmed the results.
“We hope that everyone can cool down,” Chen Chi-mai said. “I believe this incident will have a satisfactory conclusion.”
However, the party risks incurring increased backlash from the One Side, One Country Alliance, a large group of DPP lawmakers in which Wang plays a prominent role, if the controversy continues.
Members of the alliance, notably former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) son, Greater Kaohsiung Councilor Chen Chih-chung (陳致中), comprised the majority of the protesters at the DPP’s headquarters in Taipei.
“Former president Chen Shui-bian cares deeply about this issue,” Chen Chih-chung said. “He believes we need to support Wang and so does the One Side, One Country Alliance.”
However, those expressions of support have led to accusations that Wang is mobilizing party opinion to sway the decision regarding the nomination in his favor.
In a TV interview yesterday, Lee said that the efforts have “skewed DPP policies.”
“I feel like I’ve been wronged. After all, it is a serious punishment to be suspected for six months,” he said. “I think it is regrettable that [Wang] asked supporters and friends in the DPP to advance his interests in the hope to compel the party to nominate him.”
The scandal in which Wang was implicated drew headlines last month after accusations surfaced alleging he personally sought millions of New Taiwan dollars in donations that remained unaccounted for.