The registration period for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairperson election closed yesterday as former DPP chair Hsu Hsin-liang (許信良) and former DPP legislator Chai Trong-rong (蔡同榮) completed their registrations and made the election a five-man race.
The 76-year-old Chai became the oldest candidates in the field, with former vice premier Wu Rong-i (吳榮義) not far behind at 72 and Hsu at 70. Former premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), seen by many as the favorite in the May 27 election, and former Tainan County commissioner Su Huan-chih (蘇煥智) are 64 and 55 respectively.
The thing that got Hsu the most attention when he delivered a campaign statement at a post-registration press conference was that his top “policy” was to support former DPP presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to run again for president in 2016.
Hsu, who took the party helm twice in the 1990s and withdrew from the party in 1999 to run as an independent in the 2000 presidential election, proposed to make Tsai’s candidacy official DPP policy and said the DPP should choose a presidential candidate in 2014, along with the nominations for the seven-in-one elections that year.
The policy platforms should focus on the ultimate goal — helping the DPP to return to power, he said.
“I have always believed that true loyalty to your political party is the way to help your party win power. Any viewpoint or policy that hinders that goal should be changed because those policies would eventually become empty words if your party fails to win power,” he said.
Hsu dedicated a large part of his campaign statement to praising Tsai, describing her as a “God-sent gift” to the DPP and saying that Tsai had run a remarkable campaign, despite losing.
“Tsai is a highly valuable asset for the DPP, but I’m afraid that she might be sidelined by the party’s internal power games,” Hsu said.
Hsu said that he had made no prior deals with Tsai before making the endorsement and his policy platform reflected his own views.
Hsu said he believes he is the right man to clear all obstacles, re-direct the DPP’s focus to social welfare and the underprivileged, include all social and democratic movement advocates in the party and ultimately pave the way for the DPP’s return to power.
In 1995, Hsu proposed that Taiwan should move boldly westward toward China, but yesterday he did not touch on China policy. He said his position “has been very clear for a long time” and that details would be revealed and discussed in an election debate to be organized by the DPP later.
Hsu said he proposed the establishment of a “cross-strait affairs committee” if elected and mentioned former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) as the best candidate to head the committee.
In a press release, Su Huan-chih praised Hsu’s commitment to concentrate on party affairs and not run in future elections, but expressed concerns about Hsu’s early endorsement of a specific presidential candidate.
“It could stir up internal strife at an early stage, obscure the focus of the election and hurt the party’s image,” Su Huan-chih said.
Chai, who is backed by independence supporters and groups, told a press conference that he is still confident of winning, despite Su Tseng-chang being tipped as the favorite.