The Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) Central Executive Committee yesterday said it would postpone the decision on whether to support Sunflower movement leader Chen Wei-ting’s (陳為廷) bid for the Miaoli by-election after Chen revealed incidents of sexual harassment he had engaged in, though it confirmed nominations of candidates for legislative by-elections in four other electoral districts.
DPP spokesperson Lin Chun-hsien (林俊憲) officially introduced the four confirmed candidates at a press conference after the committee meeting yesterday afternoon, saying that the committee did not reach a conclusion on whether to support Chen in the Miaoli by-election.
The Central Standing Committee has been authorized to make the final decision on Wednesday next week, Lin said.
Originally, the DPP planned to nominate Legislator-at-large Wu Yi-chen (吳宜臻), a native of Miaoli County, as the party’s legislative candidate for Miaoli County’s second electoral district after the position was vacated by Miaoli County commissioner-elect Hsu Yao-chang (徐耀昌) at the end of last month.
The DPP later decided to throw its support behind Chen instead, as a friendly gesture to the rising political force created by the recent civil movements.
However, during an interview with the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) that was published on Tuesday, Chen revealed that he was involved in two sexual harassment incidents during his sophomore and senior years in college.
Chen said that he was caught the first time and was granted deferred prosecution.
The interview triggered polarized reactions from the public, with some criticizing him, while others defended him as being courageous to make such a confession.
The reaction within the DPP has also been divided.
Before going into the meeting, DPP Central Executive Committee member Chiu Yi-ying (邱議瑩) said that she was “shocked” to hear the news, adding that she felt uncomfortable over supporting Chen in the by-election, “because he did not do it just once, but twice, and we do not know if there are other things that might surface.”
DPP Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲), who is also part of the committee, said that the DPP should give Chen a chance.
“The DPP announced a long time ago that it would yield the seat to Chen; if we change our mind now, we would be passing a death sentence on Chen’s political career,” Kuan said. “Chen was brave enough to say it; that means he has been through a personal revolution, and I believe that he is a new person now.”
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