The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) should form a taskforce to address and solve the problem of “bogus” party members, an issue that has long plagued party affairs, former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) said yesterday.
Lu was referring to those individuals whose party fees are paid by another party member who recruits them in the hope of influencing party politics with a large support base.
Usually the addresses of bogus party members are registered as the address of the recruiting party member so that no other members can identify or influence them.
Lu proposed comparing the list of party members paying annual fees of NT$300 (US$10) for this year and last year, adding that any sudden increase in people paying party fees should be immediately investigated.
Lu said that not only had the party failed to adopt such measures, many members actively pandered to those who control large numbers of bogus party members.
“[Evidently some in] the party feel the need for people able to affect party elections by controlling large numbers of bogus party members,” Lu said, adding that [in that circumstance it would make no difference if] the party chairperson was directly voted for by basic level party members because such an individual would still be able to influence the outcome.”
Pointing to the 6 million votes outgoing DPP chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) received in the Jan. 14 presidential election, Lu said that if only half of those voters joined the party, it would be infused with new energy.
“The responsibility of persuading those people to join the DPP is the responsibility of whoever becomes the next party chairperson,” Lu said, adding that “the will to make changes will influence people’s willingness to join the party.”
“In a nutshell, the problem is very simple — does the party have the will to implement changes, or not?” she asked.
Lu also questioned the party’s freeze on party member voting for candidates in party primaries, saying: “I ask those who took way our power to elect candidates through party primaries, what are your core ideals? Evidently Democracy is not one of them.”
Primary elections were suspended a few years ago following an announcement from the Ministry of Justice that it was reviewing the cultivation of bogus party members as a method of buying votes and the DPP’s concern that any ministry investigation would cause a scandal.
Weighing in on the issue of bogus party members, former DPP chairman Yu Shyi-kun said at a separate setting yesterday that the key to resolving the issue was to properly screen those wishing to join the party.
Party rules stipulate that no party member should have his or her party fees paid for them by a third party, Yu said, adding that if a situation was uncovered where one member paid fees for others, the party should investigate and punish those involved.
Yu also said the DPP should reinstate the right of party members to vote in party primaries.
“If we choose candidates based on polls rather than the votes of party members, potential candidates will focus on TV appearances in an attempt to boost their numbers rather than working to cultivate public support,” Yu said, adding that such an approach would make party officials talking heads beholden to the media, which would be a dangerous development, Yu said.
Translated by Jake Chung, Staff Writer