DPP heavyweights join campaign team

TOGETHER AGAIN::Former premiers Frank Hsieh and Su Tseng-chang, who had a falling out after losing their 2008 presidential bid, have made a reconciliation

By Vincent Y. Chao  /  Staff Reporter

Thu, Jun 23, 2011 - Page 1

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson and presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) joined hands with party heavyweights yesterday in a show of unity amid recognition that next year’s election would be difficult to win.

In a long-awaited announcement, Tsai confirmed that her rival in the party primaries, former premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), would help with the joint presidential and legislative elections as the DPP’s campaign chairman.

Tsai also announced appointments for other top campaign posts. Former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) was named chief campaign commander, while former premier Yu Shyi-kun (游錫堃) was asked to be chief supervisor and fundraising chairman. All three appointees led the Executive Yuan under former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), and have since jockeyed for power within the DPP.

“I believe that with the support and guidance of these three party elders, we will again achieve a transfer of political power that will put Taiwan back on the right path,” Tsai told a press conference, adding that “this team is not only the strongest team, but also a winning team.”

The announcement signals a reconciliation between Tsai and Su, who fought a fierce party primary that Tsai narrowly won. It also represents the reunion of Hsieh and Su, former DPP presidential and vice presidential candidates respectively in 2008, who had a falling out after they were thrashed at the polls by then-Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).

“Next year will be a historical battle, we can’t sit on the sidelines,” Hsieh said. “Once we start [the campaign], there will no longer be any dissent. We will stick to our roles. I am willing to work under Su’s leadership to help Tsai’s election.”

Former DPP secretary-general Wu Nai-jen (吳乃仁), a close Tsai aide who represented the candidate in reaching out to the three former premiers, was named chief director.

The mosaic of political power will appease party supporters who had accused the DPP of fragmentation during the primaries. Tsai said many supporters had hoped to see the arrangement solidified “as soon as possible.”

“We began discussion of the different campaign jobs after the official presidential nomination was announced on May 4. After a month of meetings [with senior DPP politicians], the entire election framework is now falling into place,” she said.

The DPP is expected to unveil its first presidential campaign -office on Monday. The announcement comes more than a week after Ma unveiled his first campaign office, which began operations on Monday last week.

A Global Views survey on Monday and a TVBS poll on Tuesday both gave Ma’s joint ticket with Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) a slight lead over Tsai, who has yet to select a running mate.

Speaking as part of Tsai’s campaign for the first time, Su said: “Right now, it looks like winning next year’s presidential and legislative elections won’t be easy.”

He said that the DPP could not depend on “dissatisfaction with the Ma administration” to bring in votes.

“But [winning] isn’t impossible,” Su said. “The most important thing is that we have to show people around the nation that the DPP is trustworthy; that the DPP can lead Taiwan to a better future. If this is the case, then I believe that we can win both the presidency and a majority in the legislature.”

As part of her campaign roster, Tsai also named DPP Secretary-General Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) as an executive director and head of DPP campaign efforts in central Taiwan, where he made an impressive showing in last November’s special municipality elections.

The decision puts in doubt speculation that Su Jia-chyuan was being considered as Tsai’s vice-presidential running mate, as he already has two important roles to fill. Questioned on the matter, Wu Nai-jen said he did not see any conflict, but refused to elaborate.

Wu Nai-jen, meanwhile, confirmed that former DPP chairman Lin I-hsiung (林義雄), who is highly respected in the party, would not take a position at the campaign office, although he would still “help out in other ways.”

FUNDRAISING

The announcement of the campaign roster also marked the start of the DPP’s fundraising efforts. Individual fundraising quotas for party officials were confirmed by a party committee, which went as high as NT$5 million (US$173,000) for Yu, the fundraising chairman.

Under the quota system, DPP legislators and special municipality councilors are required to raise NT$250,000 each, while special municipality mayors need to collect NT$1.5 million. Local mayors and county commissioners need to raise NT$1 million each.

A requirement that Tsai, as DPP chairperson, raise NT$10 million was waived because of her status as the presidential candidate, DPP spokesperson Lin Yu-chang (林右昌) said.

At a separate setting yesterday, KMT spokesman Su Jun-pin (蘇俊賓) said Tsai’s campaign lineup reflected the return of an older generation of DPP heavyweights, adding that Tsai had backed down on a promise to cultivate a younger generation of leadership in her presidential campaign.

“By appointing politicians from former president Chen Shui-bian’s era as her campaign leaders, it’s obvious that the DPP’s old power structure and ways of thinking have returned,” Su Jun-pin said.

RUNNING MATE

Tsai has not announced her vice presidential running mate, but previously said that DPP members in their 40s, a generation that comprises many one-time student leaders who gained experience in the previous DPP administration, would play a bigger role to attract the support of first-time voters.

The KMT’s Central Standing Committee, meanwhile, yesterday approved the nomination of Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) as the party’s vice presidential candidate. The KMT will formally approve the nomination of Ma and Wu on Saturday at the party’s national congress in Greater Taichung.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY MO YAN-CHIH