Sat, Apr 06, 2002 - Page 3 News List

Scrape with DPP leaves conbative Chiu feeling bruised

POLITICAL BATTLEAfter fighting the party over her refusal to display her ballot in the legislative vice speakership race, the lawmaker says she realizes she's a political novice

By Crystal Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

PHOTO: TAIPEI TIMES

The past week has been a roller-coaster ride for rookie DPP lawmaker Chiu Chang (邱彰).

On Monday, the party's Central Review Committee voted 8 to 2 to strip Chiu of her membership, a ruling that was overturned by the Arbitration Committee Wednesday on grounds of procedural flaws.

If booted from the party, Chiu would lose her office as a legislator-at-large because she won her seat through appointment rather than direct election.

Chiu, a former lawyer, was accused of failing to display her ballot during the election of the new legislative vice speaker on Feb. 1, in defiance of a party order.

Contentious and straightforward, Chiu traded barbs with fellow colleagues on the legislative floor, with opposition lawmakers cheering on.

The brawl, captured live on TV, prompted some DPP members to demand that she be booted from the party, though others prefer a milder penalty.

The Arbitration Committee's turnabout, however, may prove to be only a reprieve. Colleagues such as Chou Po-lun (周伯倫) have called on the party to mend the "procedural flaw" and expel her.

"Though I survived, I did not feel an ounce of joy," said Chiu. "Rather, I feel weary and fearful. Now I realize that politics is a realm where I am a freshman indeed."

Moral dilamma

Seeking to help the party's nominee Hong Chi-chang (洪奇昌) win the vice speakership, the DPP caucus adopted a resolution that bound its 89 members to show their vote to appointed colleagues before inserting them into ballot boxes.

Chiu frowned on the edict, saying it would flout electoral rules.

Her noncompliance enraged her senior colleagues, some of whom claimed that Chiu did not vote for Hong and vowed to seek her removal.

On Monday, the DPP Central Review Committee voted in favor of revoking her membership and thereby her legislative seat.

"No member is above party rules," said DPP lawmaker Gao Jyh-peng (高志鵬), who proposed punishing Chiu last month.

"She should not have ignored the caucus decision and bickered with colleagues. Her conduct had harmed the party's image and unity."

Fellow lawmaker Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) echoed Gao, saying that members would start to take discipline lightly if Chiu went unpunished.

"As a lawmaker-at-large, Chiu has greater responsibility to uphold party discipline."

Unfazed, Chiu sought recourse through the party's Arbitration Committee the following day. She pointed out that Gao, a member of the Central Standing Committee, had no right to recommend her punishment as this falls under the jurisdiction of the Central Executive Committee.

Further, she argued that the article used to expel her was invalid, because it stipulates that the disciplinary action should come from the party caucus.

After hearing her case, the Arbitration Committee, consisting of a group of disinterested lawyers, invalidated her expulsion.

"The Central Standing Committee has no role in mediating the dispute," conceded DPP deputy secretary-general Hsu Jen-tu (許仁圖). "It is now up to the legislative caucus to decide whether to refer Chiu to the Central Review Committee for discipline."

Though the matter has yet to be finalized, the dramatic twists and turns have mellowed the outspoken Chiu.

"I will learn to be humble and cautious when dealing with interpersonal relations in the future," she said.

Chiu, 52, had worked as a legal consultant since 1989, when she returned to Taiwan, until early this year. She earned a master's degree in microbiology and a law degree from Columbia University. Later she gained her Ph.D. in biochemistry from New Jersey State University.

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