Sat, Nov 20, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Introducing the `non-party' party

PERPLEXING ALLIANCE What does the newly-formed Non-Partisan Solidarity Union stand for? Even some of the party's legislative candidates don't have a clue

By Debby Wu  /  STAFF REPORTER , IN KAOHSIUNG

One of the decisive forces in the legislative election may be the newly-formed Non-Partisan Soli-darity Union (NPSU, 無黨團結聯盟), and yet the party is a motley crew of candidates who have little in common. About the only thing that does unite the candidates is that they don't know much about what the party is doing, and they don't really care.

The candidates seldom meet with the party's leader, and there is no joint campaign or common strategy. All of which poses the question of whether the union is really a party at all.

Next month's legislative elections are ones in which the candidates in the south have avoided highlighting their party orientation, and instead stressed their personal image.

But the newly-formed NPSU, suffering from its novelty and lack of a central ideology, has been especially weak in presenting a comprehensive and coherent impression of the party. Most of its candidates are selling their own personal qualities instead of party affiliation.

The better-known NPSU candidates include Aboriginal Legislator May Chin (高金素梅) and a Taichung heavyweight, Legislator Yen Ching-piao (顏清標). Yen is appealing his conviction for corruption and attempted murder earlier this year.

One NPSU candidate, who wished to remain unidentified, said bluntly that he did not have close ties with the party headquarters.

"I do not interact with the party very much, and I have never met the chairwoman Chang Po-ya (張博雅)," the candidate said. "There has not been anyone from the party coming to help me either."

When asked about whether the candidate was familiar with the NPSU's legislators-at-large, the candidate was nonplussed.

"There should be some out there," the candidate said.

Steven Huang (黃璽文), the NPSU's candidate in Kaohsiung County, said that the NPSU could become a decisive minority since some voters have become tired of the ceaseless conflict between the pan-blue and the pan-green camps.

"But I don't understand what the NPSU is doing either," Huang said, sounding as if he wasn't even an NPSU candidate.

Huang is holding strong in the campaign not because he is an NPSU member, but because he comes from a family with strong political support.

"The party has the chance to compete with the Taiwan Solidarity Union, but I don't understand how the NPSU operates either," he said.

Huang said that he did not know where the NPSU headquarters was, and he only met the chairwoman once or twice.

Huang said he became a NPSU member because of NPSU legislative caucus whip Tsai Hao's (蔡豪) persuasion. Huang, who considered KMT membership, said that Tsai told him if Huang was elected as a KMT legislator, he would not achieve much.

But Tsai told Huang that if he was elected from the NPSU, he would be much more influential, since the NPSU is likely to become a decisive minority in the legislature.

Former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislator-at-large Lee Ho-shun (李和順) cancelled his membership last month because the KMT would not let him run as a regional legislator in Tainan County. He later decided to join the NPSU.

But he has been perplexed about his new party, and hasn't benefited from his membership.

"For the legislative election, the important thing is whether you will support your local constituents, how you present yourself and whether you serve the constituency well," Lee said.

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