Outspoken Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Shen Fu-hsiung (沈富雄) yesterday surprised the ruling party by advising it not to continue to use ethnic issues pertaining to a Taiwanese national identity as a campaign theme in the year-end legislative elections.
Speaking at a press conference entitled "Love Taiwan," Shen urged the party to stop using the "love Taiwan" slogan and issues involving the building of a Taiwanese identity in the December elections.
Shen said that for a long time the politician's way of deciding whether someone loved Taiwan or sided with China had become detrimental to the ethnic harmony of the nation.
Shen urged the DPP to formulate a formal resolution to stop manipulating the ethnic issue between the majority Hoklo Taiwanese and Mainlanders who came to Taiwan with the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government in 1949.
He issued four statements to explain why the DPP should abandon the "love Taiwan" campaign theme.
Shen said since most Taiwanese, up to 90 percent of them according to various polls, said they love Taiwan, those who "don't love Taiwan" are not a strong enough force in society to jeopardize the country.
As for the definition of whether a person loves Taiwan, Shen said it is unfair to determine the degree of a party's or an individual's love for Taiwan by their China policies, the degree of their Chinese nostalgia or the time they arrived in Taiwan -- the Hoklo Taiwanese's arrival dates back to two centuries ago while the Mainlanders' arrival was only five decades ago.
"There is no objective and scientific method to gauge the magnitude of a person's love for Taiwan. That someone claims to love Taiwan very much doesn't necessarily mean he or she loves Taiwan more than other compatriots," Shen said.
He concluded that if the DPP agrees with him, it should stop using the "love Taiwan" theme as an election gimmick.
Shen also appealed to President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) to "do something" to change the situation by mending fences between pan-green and pan-blue supporters.
Shen criticized fellow politicians of all stripes, saying they only hide in their respective fortresses to criticize their rivals and don't have the courage to discuss these issues.
But he said he would rather demand the DPP reflect on these issues than ask the opposition camp to improve the situation.
Saying newly appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs Mark Chen (陳唐山) approved of his statements, Shen added: "The DPP needs to conduct self-criticism on the issue. If it could take the lead to change [the situation], it would reveal the stubbornness of the pan-blue camp."
Shen's DPP colleagues, however, denied the party manipulated the issue or incited tensions between the camps.
DPP Deputy Secretary General Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) said the party's campaign themes, including the referendum, the rewriting of the constitution and other social and economic reforms, were intended to benefit the country and would continue to be high on its campaign agenda for the year-end elections.
DPP Legislator Tsai Chi-fang (
Yesterday was not the first time Shen has upset party members.
He angered the DPP before the presidential election by speaking out against first lady Wu Shu-chen (吳淑珍) during the uproar over whether the president had accepted donations from fugitive tycoon Chen Yu-hao (陳由豪).