Wed, Jun 23, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Separation of roles called helpful to reform agenda

By Chang Yun-ping  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) plan to relinquish the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairmanship came as a structural transformation for the DPP to ultimately minimize the party's role in the administration, political sources said yesterday.

Analysts and academics said Chen's quitting the party chairmanship will be conducive to the future constitutional reform and reduce Chen's burdens by untying the DPP from the administration.

Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明), an Academia Sinica social sciences researcher said the party's leadership function should be simplified and detached from the administration to leave policy-making to the administration.

"The party leadership has no ability to form national policies; therefore, it is basically not capable of leading state affairs. All the resources and talent are in the administrative branches. However, if Chen wants to put them [administrative officials] in the DPP's Central Standing Committee, the party's decision-making mechanism, it would create a great burden for Chen," Hsu said.

Currently Premier Yu Shyi-kun, major Cabinet officials such as Chairwoman of the Council for Labor Affairs Chen Chu (陳菊), Cabinet Spokesperson Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) and Presidential Office Secretary General Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) all double as DPP Central Standing Committee members. These officials must convene committee meetings on a weekly basis and sometimes reach major policy decisions through these meetings.

Hsu said Chen's election victory has consolidated his power base and therefore he would not need to depend on the backing of the DPP to solidify his position.

"Now Chen's concurrent position as the party chairman has become a liability for him, especially when he is taking on the task of making a new constitution. For the purpose of maintaining neutrality while pursuing [this goal], Chen's stepping down as party chairman could allow him more space to talk with opposition leaders," Hsu said.

Chen became the DPP chairman in 2002 to strengthen his position and step up cooperation and coordination between the party and administration.

Hsu said the recent controversy regarding how Chen would relinquish his chairman position and squabbles over whether factional politics should be eradicated should not be viewed as undermining Chen's sincerity in seeking reforms.

"Chen should have made clear in the first place that he would resign the party chairmanship; then it would have been a lot easier for him to ask factional forces to withdraw from the operations of the administration and party headquarters. But after all, the purpose of these initiatives meant well, if they could have been conveyed more clearly," Hsu said.

Chin Heng-wei (金恆煒), editor-in-chief of Contemporary Monthly said those problems deriving from the new method to choose a party chairman were just technicalities.

"Chen's eventual goal is to detach himself from the party chairmanship so that he can allow the new DPP chairman to mediate among different party leaders and thus subdue opposition to the constitutional reform plan," Chin said.

Meanwhile, Chin said the DPP is facing a structural challenge to overhaul the position and function of the party.

Before the DPP came to power, he said, it had never thought it would one day become a ruling party. But now with Chen's winning a second term, the DPP has to think how to transform itself from a structure set for an opposition party into a ruling party, which is an assistance to the administration instead of overriding the administration, Chin said.

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