Fri, Aug 18, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Shih's anti-Chen campaign divides the DPP

SPLIT PARTY The former chairman's drive has seen him come under fire from some DPP legislators while others are advocating a softer approach to the issue

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Retired doctor Lin Chin-huang, center, tears off a piece of paper from a poster of former Democratic Progressive Party chairman Shih Ming-teh in a symbolic dissection of Shih at an event in Kaohsiung yesterday.

PHOTO: HUANG CHIH-YUAN, TAIPEI TIMES

The fundraising campaign initiated by former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Shih Ming-teh (施明德) to oust President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) has divided supporters of his former party.

DPP Legislator Wang Shih-cheng (王世堅) yesterday said he wished Shih had been sentenced to death when he was indicted for treason 25 years ago.

"I hope Shih will put an end to such ridiculous behavior so he won't destroy his reputation," Wang said. "I wish he had been executed during Chiang Ching-kuo's (蔣經國) presidency because then he would have become a Taiwanese hero, earned the respect of the people and been well remembered."

TV political commentator Wang Ben-hu (汪笨湖) yesterday poured cold water on Shih's campaign and said he would organize a "Taiwan militia" to counter Shih.

He called on the public to join the Aug. 26 campaign he is organizing to "protect A-bian and safeguard Taiwan" at the 228 Peace Park.

DPP Legislator Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲) criticized Shih for "arrogance," saying that he brazenly rejected their "friendly" efforts to dissuade him from continuing.

While the Democratic Action Alliance is also planning to officially commence its national anti-Chen Shui-bian campaign by taking to the streets on the same day as Shih, Huang said Shih had put on an air of self-importance and refused to negotiate with the alliance.

"It makes me feel that he has become someone I don't know any more," Huang said. "I don't want to see his moral arrogance. Even former president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, was not that arrogant when he was dealing with opposition parties."

Shih is often dubbed the "Nelson Mandela of Taiwan" because of the 25 years he served in prison as a result of his pro-democracy activism.

DPP Legislator Lee Wen-chung (李文忠), on the other hand, said he was disappointed at the way some DPP members had responded to Shih's campaign.

"Although I do not support his campaign, I feel ashamed about what the first family has done," he said. "I feel even more ashamed about the way my colleagues have responded to Shih."

Lee said DPP members could at least keep quiet when they cannot figure out a way to resolve the problem.

"If they want to respond, they must respond with dignity and consider the public reaction," he said. "Defensive or defamatory remarks will only further disappoint our supporters."

Shih's former wife, Linda Gail Arrigo, yesterday said Shih's campaign was not an act of conscience but an unwillingness to remain out of the limelight.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Tsai Chin-lung (蔡錦隆) yesterday said that pan-green supporters taking sides with Chen had subjected themselves to political manipulation.

"Although they say that they are defending a localization regime, they are actually defending a government embroiled in corruption," Tsai said.

Tsai said the KMT fully support Shih's campaign, but it won't order its party members to participate in the campaign in the hope of avoiding making the campaign a confrontation between the pan-green and pan-blue camps.

People First Party (PFP) Legislator Lu Hsueh-chang (呂學樟) said the debate on Chen's resignation is "not a matter of standing for a pro-localization regime or not."

"Rather, it should be a problem of fighting corruption or not." Lu added.

He said the PFP will not attend Shih's campaign in the name of the party, but it will encourage the participation of its party members and supporters.

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