Tue, Jun 15, 2004 - Page 3 News List

DPP's `New Tide' wants open debate on banning factions

By Chang Yun-ping  /  STAFF REPORTER

The proposal to dissolve the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) factions has stirred opposition from the party's best-organized faction -- New Tide (新潮流) -- which urged the party to hold public debates on whether to abolish factional organizations within the party.

Liang Wen-chieh (梁文傑), deputy director of the DPP's policy-research and coordinating committee and a member of the New Tide Faction, said he would suggest that the party's regulation revision group hold public debates on the issue, just as the party did in 1998 to debate changes to the DPP's stance on investment in China.

The DPP held a three-day debate in 1998 on whether to encourage investment in China in accordance with the "boldly march west" policy advocated by former DPP chairman Hsu Hsin-liang -- or maintain the "no haste, be patient" (戒急用忍) policy advocated by the New Tide faction.

The proposal to dissolve the party's factions was made by Legislator Wang Sing-nan (王幸男), a member of the small Mainstream faction (主流聯盟), echoing President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) calls for administrative neutrality in governmental and party operations. Chen is the DPP's chairman.

The party's regulation revision group, which is undertaking va-rious reform initiatives including changing the party's rules that govern nominating legislators-at-large, plans to draft revised party regulations that would demand that government and party officials withdraw from factional activities.

The regulation revision group will forward its suggestions to the meeting of the party's National Congress on July 18 for discussion and approval.

Chung Chia-pin (鍾佳濱), DPP deputy secretary-general and a member of the New Tide faction, said the essential question regarding dissolving the factions concerns how factions should be defined.

Chung said the party's rules give members the right to assemble, and factional behavior such as recruiting members and charging membership fees are common across all factions. He also noted that there are other sub-groups in the party, such as the Friends of Chen Shui-bian and a group of female Chen-backers.

Chung said that before eliminating factional organizations it is necessary to clearly define what constitutes a faction and what kind of factional activities are considered inappropriate.

Liang yesterday said that not everyone would agree to hold a debate on the question of faction abolishment, as those who disapprove of factional organizations might simply use the debate to "vilify the name of New Tide as much as possible."

Wang said yesterday the reason the New Tide faction has been targeted for abolition is that the faction uses its huge organization to influence the government's policy, including the assignment of personnel.

Wang said that New Tide often invites government officials to meetings and that those meetings very often influence the officials' policy decisions.

Wang said that the existence of factions within the DPP harms the solidarity of the party, as factions make many legislators very cliquish.

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