Several Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators yesterday said they would welcome former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) return to the fold, while party headquarters declined to comment.
Chen, detained on graft, bribery and embezzlement charges, withdrew from the party in August last year after it was found that campaign funds had been mismanaged. His wife wired an unspecified amount of money overseas that Chen had received for his two Taipei mayoral and two presidential election campaigns between 1993 and 2004.
On Thursday, an executive committee member of the DPP Taipei City Branch, Hsu Chieh-yuan (許界元), said that during his last visit to Chen the latter had said that if the party were to invite him to rejoin he would be willing to do so.
“Chen is not the only one facing lawsuits. The party welcomes any comrades that had to leave the party temporarily for some reason to return to the team and together work toward the 2010 presidential election” said Lee Chun-yi (李俊毅), DPP caucus whip and the party nominee for the year-end’s Tainan County commissioner race.
Lee said he was confident that with Chen’s support the party would have no problem clinching victory and continue its governance of the traditional pan-green stronghold.
DPP Legislator Gao Jyh-peng (高志鵬), Chen’s protege, said the former president’s return would do the party some good. However, he quickly said it would be “ideal” if Chen could come back after his legal issues had been resolved.
Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲), another DPP lawmaker, also extended a welcome, saying if Chen intended to return to the party, it should not ignore his wishes.
“The party has the necessary mechanisms to deal with issues such as this,” he said.
Entertainer-turned-DPP Legislator Yu Tien (余天) pointed out that Chen relinquished his membership on his own initiative. He said the law stipulates that all are innocent until proven guilty and therefore Chen should be welcomed back.
DPP spokesman Cheng Wen-tsang (鄭文燦) said so far the party has not received any concrete information from Chen’s office on any plans to rejoin the party, but said that according to the party charter, individuals who have withdrawn their membership were entitled to reapply for it.
“Any application would be reviewed by a three-person committee and the committee retains the right to accept or reject any application,” he said.
DPP secretary-general Wu Nai-jen (吳乃仁) declined to comment on the issue.
Wu said his committee held an inter-governmental agency meeting on March 24 to review the regulations and suggested that the Ministry of the Interior work with other agencies to relax the rules.