Sun, Mar 17, 2002 - Page 3 News List

Restless DPP ponders its place in the middle

SECOND-GUESSING With the TSU hogging the spotlight, some DPP members are questioning the party's low profile , fearing that they might end up marginalized

By Crystal Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Faced with competition from all sides, the DPP has questioned the wisdom of staying low-key in the wake of the transition of power, fearing continued restraint may dampen its dynamism.

Last Tuesday, the party's legislative caucus passed a resolution to set up a task force devoted to studying the desirability of downsizing the legislature, among other planned reforms.

The issue, broached by the ruling party on the campaign trail of the legislative elections last December, was later adopted by its ally, the TSU, which has shown more activism in pushing for its fulfillment.

"The idea is the DPP's brainchild," DPP legislative whip Hsu Jung-shu (許榮淑) said earlier this week.

"Only we have conceded the initiative to the Cabinet, which is mulling measures to overhaul election rules as part of the effort to remake the government."

To help preserve stability, the DPP, which has fought hard to revamp the political establishment since its birth in 1986, has imposed a gag rule on its contentious members, if only informally.

"Now that we are no longer in the opposition," said DPP legislative leader Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘), "we have to be more cautious and pragmatic when weighing public policy."

Itching for more

Recently, an increasing number of DPP lawmakers have grown restless, noting that their TSU colleagues have dominated the political limelight, though they only have 13 seats in the legislature.

DPP legislators Lin Yu-sheng (林育生) and Tang Hou-sheng (湯火聖) called a news conference yesterday to pan the TSU for seeking to expand its muscle at the expense of sapping the DPP.

In recent weeks, the TSU has proposed bills to halve the legislature, disqualify citizens born outside of Taiwan from running for president and make Hokkien an official language.

It is also pushing for legal reforms that would require President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) to deliver a state of the nation address to the legislature and postpone allowing local chipmakers to invest in China.

Those proposals, despite their dim prospects of being adopted, have succeeded in drawing significant media attention to the party.

Meanwhile, the opposition KMT and PFP have repeatedly made headlines by picking on new Cabinet officials, particularly Minister of Economic Affairs Christian Tsung (宗才怡), during interpellation sessions.

Next week, KMT lawmaker Huang Teh-fu (黃德福) plans to introduce a bill to rename Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall as President Memorial Hall, which would expand its exhibitions to include the documents and belongings of all late presidents.

By contrast, the ruling caucus continues to give its top priority to passively defending the Chen administration.

"It is time the DPP quit the strategy or it will risk being marginalized on the nation's political stage," Hsu said.

She noted that nearly all TSU bills were copied from her party's platform.

Without an outright majority, the DPP, though having replaced the KMT as the largest party in the legislature, has shunned tough-sounding speeches, in stark contrast to its past practices.

Before taking power in May 2000, the party showed no trepidation standing up to the then majority KMT when promoting its policy goals.

"As the ruling party, the DPP has no choice but to move toward the center of the spectrum so it can take care of the largest number of people possible," Ker said.

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