Mon, Mar 11, 2002 - Page 3 News List

DPP members split over leadership plan

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

DPP members are split over a reform plan presented by the party's Central Standing Committee.

The committee raised political eyebrows when it said it supports having the head of state lead the party while it is in power and having DPP members directly elect the chairman when it is in the opposition.

While those in favor of the proposal argued that the move would help foster a better relationship between the government and the party, opponents said that the party would be demonstrating a reversal in its position of opposing the idea of having the head of state lead the party.

Although President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) has so far remained silent on the issue, he will become the party's new chairman if the resolution is approved at the party's April 20 national meeting attended by local chapter leaders.

Before the meeting gets underway, the party said that it welcomes its members, including lawmakers and local government officials, to publicly debate the matter.

If debating the issue results in a conclusion that is different from the the resolution, two proposals will be presented at the national meeting for further review and final approval.

The party is scheduled to elect its new chairman on May 26.

So far, 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 for the party chairman's race, and Yao Chia-wen (姚嘉文) and Yen Chin-fu (顏錦福), both from the Welfare State Alliance (福利國) faction, have expressed a keen interest in the position.

The party's controversial reform announcement has received mixed reaction.

Word of warning

Outspoken Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) has cautioned that it would hurt both the president and the party if Chen assumes the party chairmanship.

"Please don't put the president in an embarrassing situation," Lu said while attending a tea party for a national women's group last Wednesday. "And please don't turn the Democratic Progressive Party into the Democratic Deteriorating Party."

Yao, a senior adviser to the president, is another party member who disapproves of the idea.

"I thought it was a bad idea because the president does not have enough time for the two jobs and he might be caught in an awkward position if he is to head the party," he said.

Yao added that the level and scope of the two positions are totally different.

"When you're the party chairman, what concerns you is the interest of the party and its members. But when you're the president, you look at the bigger picture and what you care about should be the interest of the entire nation and its people."

DPP lawmaker Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康) of the party's New Tide (新潮流) faction, however, said that he "doesn't disapprove" of the idea of having the president lead the party.

"However, certain supplementary measures need to be drawn up to make the practice a more comprehensive one" in terms of representation, Tuan said.

For example, faction leaders and government officials must be included in the party's decision-making unit, the Central Standing Committee, in order to strengthen the unit, he said.

Tuan, however, voiced his disapproval of having party members directly elect the chairman when the party is in opposition.

"I thought it might be better to have either legislative caucus leaders or legislators at large lead the party when it is not in power, because the legislature is the most important political stage for an opposition party," Tuan said.

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