Mon, Feb 24, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Round-table forum aims to rekindle `tang wai' spirit

By Lin Mei-chun  /  STAFF REPORTER

Two former DPP heavyweights and several liberal academics yesterday announced the establishment the "Tang wai round-table forum" (黨外圓桌論壇)" with an aim to bring back the opposition spirit that prevailed during KMT rule.

At a meeting that was more like a reunion of aging politicians, participants urged people to retain the spirit of the tang wai, or outside the party, movement and blasted the DPP for governing the country based on ideology.

Former DPP chairman Hsu Hsin-liang (許信良) said the forum, which is predominantly made up democracy campaigners active before the founding of the DPP, seeks to consolidate the strength of the old tang wai activists in a bid to pursue democracy and challenge the authorities.

"Taiwan's political scene is dominated by party politics. It is either pan-blue or pan-green. Regardless, we wish Taiwanese can keep the tang wai spirit," Hsu said.

The idea for the forum was floated about one month ago by Hsu and former DPP legislator Ju Gau-jeng (朱高正). Members include a dozen of longtime liberal academics and former DPP members.

Hsu is also trying to persuade former DPP chairman Shih Ming-teh (施明德) to join the group.

Ju said that a survey showed 62 percent of people were disappointed with all political parties and he hoped the forum could serve as a stage on which intellectuals could speak their minds.

Both Hsu and Ju were once charismatic opposition leaders and contributed to democratization. But in the process of the nation's political transformation, both were marginalized. Both were revolutionaries, but could not find themselves a place in modern party politics.

With the two camps pitted against each other, Ju and Hsu are apparently trying to position themselves on a new political stage.

A staunch democracy campaigner who fought the KMT during the tang wai era in the 1970s and 1980s, Hsu was DPP chairman for six years until 1999 when he left the party due to his views on China policy.

Ju, dubbed as a "battleship of democracy," ridiculed the irrationality of the "permanent parliament," under which the KMT claimed its members could be re-elected once they recovered China. In late 1980s, he became the first legislator in Taiwan known to have resorted to physical violence to disrupt legislative proceedings and helped terminate the tenure of decades-old assemblymen and legislators.

His arrogance and ill-temper made him a controversial politician, eventually leading to his split with the party.

After they left the DPP, both men spent a lot of time advocating a more accommodating policy toward China and bitterly criticized the DPP's cross-strait policy.

In 2000, Hsu paired with former New Party legislator Josephine Chu (朱惠良) in the presidential election, but the pair lost miserably. Since then, he has faded from the political scene.

After Ju left the DPP, he joined the New Party, and later served as a founding chairman of the Social Democratic Party. The party disappeared. He ran for a legislative seat several times, but failed each time.

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