Thu, Mar 14, 2002 - Page 3 News List

DPP finding new adversary in Lee's TSU

TENSION As the Taiwan Solidarity Union continues to press its case for restrictions on eight-inch wafer plants in China, the ruling party is beginning to feel some heat

By Crystal Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The government's planned lifting of a ban on domestic chipmakers setting up eight-inch wafer foundries in China has strained ties between the ruling DPP and the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU).

In the latest effort to delay the policy turnabout, which the TSU insists will neutralize Taiwan's technological edge, the fledgling party is organizing a demonstration on March 22 outside the legislature.

On Tuesday, the party's legislative caucus called on Vice Premier Lin Hsin-yi (林信義) to step down, accusing him of dereliction of his duty. They panned as "overoptimistic" Lin's contention that local semiconductor manufacturers can soon embark on mass production of 12-inch wafers after moving their eight-inch facilities across the Strait.

"What the TSU seeks to uphold is the collective welfare of the 23 million people in Taiwan, not the DPP's reign," TSU legislative leader Lo Chih-ming (羅志明) said. "The series of protests come in line with the party's founding goal of helping preserve stability. We cannot sit around watching the government make mistakes that may undermine the nation's security."

Since its founding last August, the TSU has said it aims to help President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) administration carry out its policy initiatives in the legislature.

The party has consistently given all its 13 votes to the DPP during crucial votes such as the election for the vice legislative speaker on Feb. 1 and on the Cabinet request to void revisions to funding rules two weeks later.

In return, the president added former TSU spokesman Shu Chin-chiang (蘇進強) to the staff of the National Security Council.

And Premier Yu Shyi-kun recently named Huang Hwei-chen (黃輝珍), a loyalist of the TSU spiritual leader and former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), as a minister without portfolio.

Lee has openly spoken out against the abandonment of his "no haste, be patient" policy to regulate cross-strait trade, fearing that the country will become overly dependent on China economically.

But Chen, apparently bowing to pressure from the business community, has embraced a more liberal approach under the principle of "active opening, effective management."

Seeking to avoid further alienating the TSU, the DPP has painted the ally's criticisms as good-intentioned.

"The TSU's grievances are understandable," DPP legislative caucus leader Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said. "They stem from a desire to spur the DPP to working harder. We understand their message and will put forth extra effort."

However, Ker pointed out that with or without legal obstacles, the government cannot hold back the trend of capital flight, noting that many Taiwan investors have made their way to China via a third party in the last decade. Under eased control, he argued, the government may better monitor cross-strait commerce and draw up policies to facilitate the return of profits gained.

To expand the party's voter base, the DPP has shown a steady drift towards the political center over the years, to the chagrin of traditional supporters who advocate severance of cross-strait entanglement.

Pro-independence groups at home and abroad, for instance, who were once staunch supporters of the DPP have aligned themselves with Lee and the TSU in the last year.

Four-term DPP lawmaker Yen Ching-fu (顏錦福) acknowledged that the ongoing TSU protest has caused harm to the DPP, which as the ruling party has no choice but to rally behind the government.

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