Mon, Jul 19, 2004 - Page 3 News List

DPP tightens rules on factions

NEW REGULATION Stopping short of banning factions altogether, the DPP decided to prohibit members serving in an official capacity from belonging to party factions

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian, who is also the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman, center, joins the party's nominees for the December legislative elections in a cheer at a rally yesterday.

PHOTO: SEAN CHAO, TAIPEI TIMES

The Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) extraordinary national congress yesterday approved a new internal regulation that forces party members serving in an official capacity to withdraw from party factions. At the same time, with the support of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), the party voted down amendments to the proposed regulation that would have eliminated party factions entirely.

Legislator Wang Sing-nan (王幸男) introduced the proposed regulation to abolish factions on June 16 and received strong support from many other party heavyweights. Wang and his supporters stressed that the clause was targeted at dismantling the party's biggest faction -- the New Tide, which they claimed has not only dominated resource distribution within the party but also the sharing of government power.

To meet party members' expectations for party reform to counter the negative influence of factions on the DPP's future, Chen, who also serves as party chairman, asked the DPP's central headquarters to draw up a clause restricting factionalism. This clause demands that all Cabinet officials and all officials of the party headquarters withdraw from factions or face penalties.

The proposal to abolish factions boiled down to a battle between the New Tide and the rest of the party at yesterday's national congress.

"If the political operation of any country in the world becomes less corrupt and more intelligent because of the existence of factions, if the government of any country in the world worsens because of the lack of factions, and if the DPP will collapse because of the abolishment of factions, then I am willing to withdraw my proposal," Wang said at yesterday's meeting.

Lee Wen-chuang (李文忠), leader of the New Tide, countered by saying that party factions exist in all democratic countries, because politics develops out of competition between different ideals.

"We agree that the way factions operate should be reviewed and needs to be guided in a more positive direction, but the suggestion to abolish factions will be a joke as far as democracy is concerned," Lee said.

"The rumors and suspicions about vote-buying during our party's primary election of the legislator-at-large nominees indicate that a lack of positive factional operation will only lead to a highly unstable situation within the party," Lee said.

Legislator Chen Chin-te (陳金德), a member of the New Tide, said that Wang's proposal to abolish factions violates the spirit of the Constitution, which clearly protects the people's right to free assembly.

Legislator Trong Chai (蔡同榮), founder of the party's small Mainstream faction, supported Wang by saying that factions in other democratic countries, such as the US, did not compete for government resources.

"Please, let's not be so naive, the efforts of party factions have nothing to do with Taiwan's future, they are just fighting for a private group's interests," he said.

Lin Chung-mao (林重模), a legislator belonging to the Justice faction, compared factions to prostitutes, saying that since Chen has in the past executed a firm policy of abolishing prostitution, he should also publicly support the abolishment of party factions.

Chen, a founder of the Justice faction, asked Lin not to take such a harsh stance on the issue, saying, "I voted for you during the last legislative election."

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