Wed, Apr 09, 2014 - Page 4 News List

TRADE PACT SIEGE: DPP confronts image problem amid student protests

Staff writer, with CNA

Former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday said that if the DPP has a sense of crisis because of the ongoing student protest at the Legislative Yuan, it should convene a party conference for thorough discussion of the issue.

Hsieh was referring to the student-led Sunflower movement that stormed the legislature on March 18 over the government’s handling of the controversial cross-strait service trade pact and has occupied it ever since.

The student protesters announced on Monday evening that they will end their occupation of the legislature tomorrow, following a pledge from Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) to enact a monitoring law before any review of the service trade pact.

Hsieh said on his Facebook page that DPP lawmakers have worked hard and made contributions to the movement — DPP lawmakers have taken turns to guard the doors of the legislature to shield the students inside since the occupation began, and DPP heavyweights also joined the students in their sit-in in the Executive Yuan compound on March 23 and 24 and in a massive protest rally in front of the Presidential Office Building on March 30.

However, Hsieh also said that a lot of people have accused the DPP of being passive in the opposition movement and of being visibly marginalized.

Critics have questioned whether the DPP is actually capable of safeguarding Taiwan’s future, Hsieh said.

In response, DPP spokesman Lin Chun-hsien (林俊憲) said only that he respects Hsieh’s view.

Hung Chih-kun (洪智坤), a DPP central executive member, said he supports Hsieh’s suggestion of a party conference, but added that Hsieh, DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and former DPP chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) should have a frank talk to help solve the problems with the party’s image.

Otherwise, a party conference would be redundant, Hung said.

One party source said the DPP will discuss follow-up actions in the wake of the student movement at the regular DPP Central Standing Committee meeting the following day.

DPP Legislator Lin Shu-fen (林淑芬) also said on Facebook that the party cannot pretend that the protest has nothing to do with what she described as the DPP’s incapacity to fulfill its role.

Lin said the major task for the DPP is to engage in soul-searching, reflecting upon its path and finding the problems within.

“If we don’t do the work and don’t reflect upon ourselves, it will not be too long before we’re turned away by the people,” Lin said.

Her colleague Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲) said that the DPP was unable to find its role in the student movement and that the party is in a dilemma because it could neither involve itself too deeply nor too lightly in the movement.

He also said that after the students withdraw from the legislature, the DPP will play the role of monitoring the government.

Meanwhile, in related news, the Chinese-language United Evening News yesterday reported that the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) may face a challenging political environment following the student movement in the short term, but it does not necessarily bode well for the DPP, either.

It is too early to determine the impact of the nearly month-long protest on the elections to be held in late November, since campaigns at the local level are more about non-political factors, including networks and emotional ties, the report said.

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