Sun, Mar 03, 2002 - Page 3 News List

DPP split on who should run the party

CONCENTRATING POWER A plan to allow the premier or president to become the party's leader is getting a lukewarm response from more than a few members

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

As the election for the DPP chairmanship draws closer, a proposal that would allow the president or the premier to take the post is dividing the party.

The DPP is scheduled to elect a new chairman on May 26.

So far, only Lee Chin-yung (李進勇), former Keelung mayor and member of the party's Justice Alliance (正義連線) faction, has declared his candidacy.

Yao Chia-wen (姚嘉文) and Yen Chin-fu (顏錦福), both from the Welfare State Alliance (福利國) faction, have also expressed keen interest in the position.

Incumbent Chairman and Kao-hsiung Mayor Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), who has not yet said whether he will run for re-election, said it was a good idea to have the president or the premier act concurrently as the party's chairman.

"I've made the proposal to the president several times, but he didn't say anything," he said. He said he asked Chen again yesterday when they attended a book fair in Kaohsiung.

"Although the president did not make known his view on the matter, we agree on the need to speed up reforming the party," Hsieh told reporters after the event.

If Chen is not interested in the post, Hsieh said, it might not be bad to have someone who enjoys the respect and trust of the president work as the party's chairman.

Hsieh proposed calling a meeting before the election in which the party's representatives nationwide could discuss the proposal and other reform initiatives.

If all goes well, Hsieh said, the party's next chairman would be the president or the premier.

But the move would represent a reversal in DPP thinking. When the KMT was in power, the head of state was also the head of the party, a practice the DPP criticized for concentrating too much power in one place.

Many in the DPP want to turn the party into an "election machine."

DPP lawmaker Lawrence Kao (高志鵬), another member of the Justice Alliance founded by Chen, dismissed Hsieh's suggestion.

"As far as I know, the president is not interested in the post nor is he giving it any thought," Kao said.

One of the most immediate problems facing the party, Kao said, is party reform. "We'll reform the party before tackling the chairmanship election."

But Kao's fellow faction member and lawmaker Chiou Yi-ying (邱議瑩) said she approved of the proposal.

"In the last two years, the Presidential Office and Cabinet made many decisions without consulting the party but later required its endorsement," she said. "I expect a better relationship between the government and the party if the DPP chairman is the head of state."

Chiu Tai-san (邱太三), spokesperson of the party's New Tide (新潮流) faction, said it would be "inappropriate" for the president to assume the chairman's post.

"The president has pledged to remain neutral and stay away from party affairs before and after the presidential election," he said.

The president, who is already preoccupied with his job, would find himself in an awkward position if he leads the party, Chiu said.

Chief convener of the DPP legislative caucus, Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘), a member of the Welfare State Alliance faction, agreed.

"The issue is so sensitive that it merits an open debate," Ker said. "I think that the president has to seriously think about how much time he'd have for two jobs if he's at all interested in the chairman's post."

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