Taipei Times (TT): You previously mentioned you have changed over the years, especially after the loss in the 2008 presidential election. What has changed and how would you describe your leadership today?
Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌): I have always been a pragmatic person who upholds the values and faith I believe in. On that part I have not changed. However, I am dealing with tasks on a case-by-case basis. Generally speaking, I hope the DPP will become a dependable and trustworthy party for Taiwanese.
TT: A survey by Taiwan Thinktank last week showed rather high levels of dissatisfaction with the DPP. How would you explain this, and what is being done to address the situation?
Su: The interpretation of the poll results was kind of confusing because the DPP’s support rates were much higher than those of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). In general, Taiwanese are the same as people in other democracies — they usually do not give high grades to politicians.
Now, it is true that the disapproval rates for the DPP and the KMT both exceeded 50 percent. However, according to the DPP’s biannual tracking poll, the pan-green camp managed to beat the pan-blue camp in support rates only twice before — in the first half of 2002 and the second half of 2004. The DPP’s support rates have been higher than the KMT’s since October last year, the third time we have fared better than the KMT in the past 12 years.
TT: Do you agree with the public impression that the DPP is too “weak, soft and directionless” against President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration, and is not taking strong action against the ruling party? Conversely, are you worried that stronger actions would lead to the DPP being labeled an “irrational” and “violent” party again?
Su: As a founding member of the party, I have seen how the DPP worked its way up and became a responsible, rational and trustworthy party. People like to joke that while the KMT messed things up, the DPP took the blame. If people labeled the DPP weak and soft, it could be because they disliked President Ma so much they expected the DPP to recall him. However, recalling a president would have to go through procedures as regulated by the Constitution.
The DPP did make changes. Had we not made the effort, the KMT would not have agreed to fight media monopolization through legislation, postpone the planned increase of electricity prices from December last year to October this year, slash the year-end bonus of more than NT$20 billion (US$690 million) for retired civil servants and a quarter of government officials’ special funds.
The DPP has adopted a three-way strategy against the government: checks and balances in the legislature, policy recommendations — such as pension reform based on social solidarity and a sensible economic platform — and public pressure. Recent policy changes by the KMT are the result of public pressure engendered by Sunday’s protest. The DPP will adopt whichever of these methods benefits people’s livelihoods.
On media monopolization, we called an international press conference on Dec. 10 and contacted foreign friends and human rights groups, and we were able to generate enough pressure on the Ma administration to force it to adjust its position.
TT: In your view, which factors — national identity/sovereignty, or local issues like the environment, the economy, and justice — play a larger role in the outcome of major elections?