Sun, Jul 04, 2004 - Page 3 News List

DPP using anniversary to vie for Hakkas

By Chang Yun-ping  /  STAFF REPORTER

Having enjoyed significantly more Hakka support in the March 20 presidential election than in previous elections, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) hopes to attract nearly 1,000 Hakka supporters to participate in the party's 18th anniversary celebration on Sept. 28.

The plan is part of the party's series of promotional efforts aimed at strengthening the party's relationship with the traditionally pro-blue Hakka and Aboriginal ethnic groups in order to break the party's long-term image as a Hoklo (commonly known as Taiwanese) party.

Yang Chang-cheng (楊長鎮), director of the DPP's Ethnic Affairs Department, yesterday said that the party's Hakka votes increased significantly in the presidential election this year, particularly in Miaoli County, where the DPP's share of the Hakka vote soared from 27 percent in 2000 to 40 percent this year.

"We are planning to reinforce the training and organization of numerous local Hakka consulting centers that were established during the last presidential campaign, and promote the participation of Hakka youth and women. Therefore, we'll make a nationwide effort to vie for Hakka support and ask them to join us in celebrating the party's anniversary," Yang said yesterday.

He made the comments at a coordination meeting between party headquarters and local chapter executives, held to map out working principles for reaching a goal of winning a pan-green majority in the December legislative elections.

High on the agenda of the meeting yesterday was the goal of transforming the 1.5 million extra voters that the party gained in the presidential election into firm supporters of the party. The effort to bring Hakkas into the party will mark the DPP's third wave of collective member recruitment.

The first such effort was in 2002 when 51 figures from academia, industry and government joined the DPP.

Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Ling-san (林陵三), former vice minister of Overseas Chinese Affairs Commission Chuang Suo-han (莊碩漢) -- along with Chao Chien-ming (趙建銘), Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) son-in-law -- joined the DPP at that time.

Last year, the party made a second large effort to bring in new party members, recruiting numerous local political elites and volunteer workers, boosting the DPP's membership to 410,000.

In addition to cultivating Hakka support, the meeting yesterday also paid special attention to making connections with Aboriginals and Mainlanders.

The party's ethnic department has suggested creating an Aboriginal TV channel, in light of the limited cable TV reception in mountainous areas where many Aboriginals live. These areas usually have access only to terrestrial TV stations.

The three terrestrial TV companies were state-owned during the KMT era and were criticized as being mouthpieces for the KMT government.

The party will also pursue legislation to promote ethnic equality. Such legislation will include a language equality law (語言平等法), anti-discrimination law (反歧視法) and immigration law (移民法).

Attendees at the meeting yesterday also unveiled goals for the future reform of the party, a task that is currently being undertaken by the party development committee. This effort focuses on how the party's chairman is chosen, in response to recent disputes about what will happen after Chen resigns from the chairmanship after the legislative elections.

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