Fri, Jan 17, 2003 - Page 3 News List

DPP membership drive attracts more members of elite

JOIN THE CLUB The nation's most senior female police officer and an independent lawmaker will join the party next Tuesday

By Lin Mei-Chun  /  STAFF REPORTER

Saying he has been attracted to the DPP's political beliefs, independent Legislator Kao Meng-ting (高孟定) yesterday announced he will join the ruling party next Tuesday.

Kao will be one of nearly 50 people, including top government and police officials, who are expected to enter the party fold at a ceremony held by President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) next week.

A former national assemblyman of the Green Party, the lawmaker from Yunlin County said he had wanted to join the DPP for some time but was waiting for the right moment.

Kao was first in touch with the DPP in the early 1990s, but he chose to join the Green Party in 1996. He has also been deputy to Chang Jung-wei (張榮味), the KMT Yunlin County commissioner.

Denying media speculation that he was joining the party in the hopes of furthering his political career, Kao said what he'd really like to do is to help Chen get re-elected next year.

A DPP scheme to expand its membership has drawn criticism from within the party.

On Wednesday, DPP Legislator Shen Fu-hsiung (沈富雄) warned the party "not to easily accept controversial figures and should instead boost the party's image by recruiting quality members."

Kao said yesterday that he did not mean to compete for the DPP's resources but hoped to be of use to the party. He will be the 89th member of the DPP's legislative caucus, the biggest in the legislature.

Among those who will join the party next week are Council of Cultural Affairs Chairwoman Tchen Yu-chiou (陳郁秀), senior adviser to the president Ku Kuan-min (辜寬敏), Fan Kuang-chun (范光群), chairman of the Taiwan Provincial Government, and prominent Hakka writer Chung Chao-cheng (鍾肇政).

Also joining are leading police officials, including Keelung City Police Headquarters Director Wu Chen-chi (吳振吉), and Presidential Office Security Department Chief Hsieh Fan-fan (謝芬芬).

Hsieh is the top female police officer in Taiwan.

The event will be the second demonstration of the expanding membership of the DPP since the party was established in 1986. Dozens of members of Taiwan's elite joined the party at a ceremony in July last year when Chen assumed the party's chairmanship.

The party has traditionally been composed of mostly political dissidents, workers and oppressed groups. In the past, when members of the elite joined the party, it would generally be seen as an offer of assistance to try to strengthen the party.

But the situation began to change after the DPP took power two years ago. With Chen serving concurrently president and party chairman, executives and social elite have rushed to join the party to be close to the center of power.

The DPP had just 1,093 members 16 years ago, soon after it was established. That number rose to 145,000 members in 1998 and has since ballooned to 400,000.

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