Fri, Jul 14, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Tainan disillusioned with Chen, DPP

By Max Hirsch  /  STAFF REPORTER , IN TAINAN COUNTY

Tainan County, home turf of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and long regarded as a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) stronghold, appears to be turning away from Chen amid a series of corruption allegations dogging his senior aides and in-laws.

Nowhere was this more apparent than in Hsichuang Village (西庄村), Chen's hometown, where many locals were slow to speak up on behalf of their embattled president.

"I don't have anything to say," one village resident told the Taipei Times, standing in front of soggy, dog-eared posters of Chen.

"It seems they [the villagers] took down the sign showing the way to Chen's hometown," a representative from the Tainan County Government's Information Division told a group of visiting reporters. "That's why we got lost."

One betel nut-chewing resident said that two road signs pointing the way to Hsichuang had been taken down, but insisted that it was because of roadwork.

"We didn't take them down because we're embarrassed of Chen," he said.

A guard posted at the Chen family's courtyard-style house said that tourism in the village had dropped off.

"The decline is very noticeable," he said.

At a conference for the Taipei Foreign Correspondents' Club last Saturday, Tainan County Commissioner Su Huan-chih (蘇煥智), a member of the DPP, slammed Chen for poor leadership and said the president and the DPP had failed to manage the country effectively.

"The DPP lacks effective decision-making mechanisms, and party reform has not been implemented since Su Tseng-chang [蘇貞昌] and DPP Chairman Yu Shyi-kun became premier and party chairman, respectively," Su Huan-chih told reporters.

"You may be surprised to hear the commissioner of Chen's hometown criticizing [Chen and top DPP leaders] in such a way, but the situation is regrettable," he said, adding that a lack of communication between DPP headquarters and local party offices frustrated him.

According to the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) Tainan branch director Su Ming-kuo (蘇明國), the KMT now has 50,000 members in Tainan and membership is growing.

"We're seeing more young people join," Su Ming-kuo told the Taipei Times, adding that 50 percent of members were younger than 49 years old.

"This is the first time [since the DPP came to power] that support for the DPP in Tainan County has lagged behind the KMT," the DPP's Tainan branch director Kuo Kuo-wen (郭國文) told the Taipei Times.

At the gathering with the foreign press, Su Huan-chih called for the establishment of direct links with China, saying that Chen and the premier should "look more clearly at the situation."

"If we had direct links, we could make Taiwan a base of operations for foreign enterprises seeking to do business in China," Su Huan-chih said, adding that the links would benefit Taiwan's economy and help the country to further "internationalize."

Su Huan-chih's call for direct links represents a dramatic reversal of positions on the matter. As recently as last year, he had rejected the notion of fostering closer economic relations with China.

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