Sat, Jul 24, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Panel backs Chen to lead DPP

YOU CAN'T QUIT Despite the president's wish to remove himself from partisan concerns in order to focus on constitutional reform, his party officials want him to stay

By Chang Yun-ping  /  STAFF REPORTER

High-ranking Democratic Pro-gressive Party (DPP) officials yesterday suggested that President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) remain in the party chairmanship position to continue to mediate between state and party affairs.

The DPP's party development committee, made up of 13 party heavyweights including Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), Presidential Office Secretary-General Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and Kaohsiung City Mayor Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), yesterday reached initial consensus to suggest Chen remain in the chairman post and exclude the possibility of a direct election for chairman by all party members should the president declines to continue serving as the chairman.

The suggestion is believed to defuse the thorny question of who will succeed Chen to be the chairman.

The committee's consensus came in the wake of Chen's announcement last month that he wishes to step down from the chairmanship early next year in order to maintain impartiality for the constitutional reform project.

"It is normal that leaders of the ruling administration be the leader of his party," said Liang Wen-chieh (梁文傑), the DPP's policy research and coordinating committee deputy director.

"Examples of this can be found in France, Germany and the US; therefore, it is perfectly legitimate that President Chen remains as the chairman of the party," Liang said yesterday.

In addition, the committee suggested that a direct election for the party chairmanship be rejected on the grounds that the power of a chairman chosen by all party members would be at odds with the president.

Lu, who joined the committee for the first time yesterday, one day after her appointment to the Central Standing Committee, said only that "It is the best that the president remains as the chairman to continue the steadfast leadership."

Legislator Shen Fu-hsiung (沈富雄) yesterday said the ramifications of Chen continuing his chair-man position will be less negative than the consequences of him quitting the job, and therefore Chen should continue to lead the party.

The meeting concluded with discussion about revamping the party platform on ethnic equality to underscore the importance of diversity.

This is an attempt to address the political confrontations following the March 20 presidential election, which some believe have led to social divisions between Hoklo people, commonly known as Taiwanese, and Chinese Mainlanders.

DPP Ethnic Affairs Director Yang Chang-cheng (楊長鎮) said the party will revamp the ethnic aspect of the party platform in the form of a resolution.

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