Sun, Oct 14, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Chen promises to hand over DPP chair to Hsieh

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Democratic Progressive Party presidential candidate Frank Hsieh, left, and vice presidential candidate Su Tseng-chang arrive at the inauguration of their Taipei County campaign headquarters yesterday.


President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday vowed to step down as chairman of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) when his presidency ends in May, expressing his confidence in the party's presidential candidate and saying he was willing to hand over the leadership to the "new president Frank Hsieh (謝長廷)."

Chen made the remarks at a press conference on the Marshall Islands, where he was attending a summit with leaders of the nation's six diplomatic allies in the Pacific.

"The tavern must be closed when the time comes," he said. "I will not only hand over the presidency but also the party chairmanship to president Hsieh. There is no doubt about it."

Chen, who announced his decision to accept the party chairmanship on Thursday, said yesterday he would not lead the government with the party's policy goals.

Echoing former president Lee Teng-hui's (李登輝) comment that former presidents should not meddle in the affairs of the sitting president, Chen said he would not criticize Hsieh or tell him what to do after he leaves office. He added that he would exercise a sense of propriety and do what he said.

His second job is simple, he said, which is to unite the party, lead it in winning next year's legislative and presidential elections, and push for passage of the party's UN referendum proposal.

Chen said that next year's presidential election was different from the polls in 2000 and 2004 when the party had to contend with outside competition.

"Near year's election is a completely different ball game," Chen said. "The enemy lies within."

Chen said that the repercussions of the party's fierce presidential primary had caused a yawning chasm within the party, and the fracture must be mended or it would have a hard time winning.

It was a pity the party wasted much time over the past few months on idle spin, he said.

Chen called former DPP chairman Yu Shyi-kun irreplaceable, adding that it would be a pity if Yu did not participate in the election campaign. He promised to recruit talented people to the party, including his new special assistant who is Yu's former adviser.

Commenting on the DPP's referendum proposal of seeking UN membership under the name "Taiwan," Chen said that no force could stop the rising trend of Taiwan-centered consciousness, adding that this was critical to winning next year.

He said that pushing the referendum was a joint consensus with Hsieh, dismissing speculation that Hsieh was forced to bow to the president's will.

Chen said it was impossible for the two to be divided over the issue because it concerns national interest and Taiwan's sovereignty.

Emphasizing that Taiwan and China are two different nations, Chen said that using the name "Taiwan" to apply for UN membership is a good way to remove the stumbling block of "one China."

The administration should have done it a long time ago, he said.

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