Mon, Sep 29, 2003 - Page 3 News List

At 17 years of age, is DPP ship adrift?

GRASSROOTS GRIEF Disillusioned party supporters fear the DPP has given up on its core values and that it has become little more than a machine in pursuit of power

By Chang Yun-Ping  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian throws a softball into a crowd of DPP members during an event in the Taichung City Stadium yesterday celebrating the party's 17th anniversary. Critics say the party has lost its core values and learned the KMT's dirty tricks over its past three years in power.


The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) marked its 17th anniversary yesterday, having spent three years in power and facing a presidential election next March.

Having come to office with so many ideals, many are now wondering if the party has kept the faith, the passion of its original beliefs and its founding spirit.

Some wonder whether it has compromised to the level of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), which it used to detest for its decadence and dictatorial rule.

Critics say the DPP has lost its core values and learned the KMT's dirty tricks over the past three years.

DPP Legislator Lee Wen-chung (李文忠) said that central to the DPP's beliefs is its reformist vision to further localization, push for democratic politics, support social welfare and promote environmental protection.

"Right now, however, some of these values have been compromised," Lee said.

"The Alliance of Justice and Fairness, or the pan-purple alliance, criticized the DPP for ingratiating itself with the rich and for siding with business syndicates," he said.

"Financial reform of the farmers' and fishermen's cooperatives was withdrawn due to a lack of confidence and fierce opposition from farmers, who used to be staunch supporters of DPP," he added.

Lee said current relations between the DPP and the KMT are like "the pot calling the kettle black."

He said that, although the DPP has made certain compromises, it doesn't necessarily mean the party is a replica of the KMT.

Although the DPP has started to establish ties with local cliques, which used to be under the control of the KMT, the party would never allow someone like former KMT cashier Liu Tai-ying (劉泰英) make illicit gains through party assets, Lee said.

"It is because the DPP is bound by democratic politics and its founding spirit," Lee said.

DPP Legislator Julian Kuo (郭正亮) said the party's image has slipped and its ability to conduct self-examination has been undermined.

Kuo said the party used to be favored by the working class due to its long-standing support for labor. But as the party came to power, the Labor Affairs Council was accused of siding with capitalists.

The people feel that the DPP favors the interests of capitalists, which can be seen in the corporate tax reduction, while the middle-class faces an increased tax burden.

"The union workers of Chunghwa Telecom surrounded the legislature last week to protest the government's privatization policies. These workers used to be staunch DPP supporters," Kuo said.

"But as the ruling party, the DPP failed to solve problems for them. It's useless for rank-and-file members to conduct re-examination while the party brass is deaf and ignorant. It's too late to make self-inspection until they lose the election battle next year," Kuo said.

The loss of the Taipei City mayoral election and the Hualien County commissioner by-election also dealt the party a blow.

"In the past, people stepped down to take responsibility for mistakes, but now, no one is doing that," Kuo said.

Facing public criticism, Presidential Office Secretary-General Chiou I-jen (邱義仁) acknowledged the party must be aware of people's complaints, especially its soured relationships with labor unions.

Cheng Wen-tsang (鄭文燦), deputy director of the DPP's Information and Culture Department, said, "These are all warnings that the party must keep its ability to allow the expression of different opinions."

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