Former president and spiritual leader of the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) expressed confidence yesterday in the growth of a third political force, saying the recent withdrawal of several TSU members would not develop into a crisis for the party.
"I happily applaud [those who quit the TSU] and urge them to leave as soon as possible," Lee said, responding to questions about developments within the party.
Four TSU members, a legislator and three Taipei City councilors, quit the party on Thursday to join the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), following the departure of three more lawmakers in the past ten days.
They accused the TSU of having lost its Taiwan-centered values and of being infiltrated by the "red-shirt army," a campaign organized to demand President Chen Shui-bian's (
Denying that the TSU had changed its views on defending the nation's sovereignty, Lee said the defections reflected an attitude of "self-importance."
They came to the TSU when they were not favored by the DPP and now the DPP has incited them to leave the TSU because it wants to "extinguish the TSU" and "attack Lee Teng-hui," Lee said.
Lee criticized the DPP over what he sees as attempts to dominate the pro-localization issue, adding that the DPP failed to understand that the pro-localization movement would only be stronger the DPP cooperated with the TSU.
While refusing to say whether there was room for a third force in January's legislative election, Lee said a third force is what the nation really needs.
"Current politics need adjustment," Lee said, adding that social problems would worsen if the two main political parties became further polarized and neglected the problems facing the middle class and the poor.
There are many young people with clearer minds than those TSU members who are planning to join the DPP, Lee said, as "not everyone wants to follow the rich and powerful."
"Centrist voters account for more than 30 percent of the population, which does not include the many Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and DPP members who are unhappy with their parties," Lee said.
Asked who he would support in March's presidential election, Lee said he remained neutral and would choose the candidate who in his view would be most helpful to the nation's development.
In related news, former DPP legislator Tuan Yi-kang (
Tuan obtained nearly 57 percent of the votes, while his rival, former TSU legislator David Huang (黃適卓), garnered about 43 percent, the DPP poll results showed.
Huang, who withdrew from the TSU on Wednesday, said he would join the DPP to run in the elections if he won the poll.
In a statement yesterday, Huang said he was willing to help Tuan in his election bid. The two had agreed to let the polls decide who should run for the sake of pan-green unity.
Huang said he will continue his legislative work until his term expires on Jan. 31, adding that he would devote most of his energy helping DPP presidential candidate Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) and his running mate, Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌).
He also expressed an interest in going back to Taoyuan County to teach at a university, he said.
TSU Legislator Ho Min-hao (何敏豪) was rumored to be the latest TSU member to join the DPP after former chairman Yu Shyi-kun attended the inauguration of Ho's campaign office in Taichung yesterday.