Thu, May 23, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Supporters protest DPP primary process

‘STACKING THE CARDS’:The party is losing support as the primary debate rages and antagonism increases among the candidates’ supporters, Chin Heng-wei said

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Reporters watch a live stream of a Democratic Progressive Party Central Executive Committee meeting at the party’s headquarters in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Peter Lo, Taipei Times

Academics and prominent figures yesterday demanded that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) abide by its original primary schedule, as they joined a protest held by pan-green supporters and Taiwanese independence groups outside the party’s headquarters in Taipei, with most participants voicing support for former premier William Lai (賴清德).

“We are facing an increasing military threat from China, so Taiwan must elect a strong leader who will not yield to pressure,” Taiwan Society chairman Chang Yeh-sen (張葉森) said. “The DPP must follow the democratic process and choose its presidential candidate, so that it can forge unity among supporters to win the election.”

National Taiwan University professor emeritus Ho De-fen (賀德芬) said that she and many of her fellow academics have accompanied the DPP since its founding, “but party officials are wrecking their own house with undemocratic ways by changing the rules to prevent a particular candidate from winning.”

Many supporters are fed up, she added.

Chang and Ho were among a number of prominent professors and lawyers who on Monday formed an “observer group for the DPP presidential primary.”

They asked the party for permission to sit in on yesterday’s DPP Central Executive Committee meeting, which was to discuss the primary process and decide on policy presentations, polling dates and telephone survey rules.

Their request was turned down, leading to the protest, the group said.

Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation chairman Michael You (游盈隆) made a surprise appearance at the protest.

“At the party meeting today, there are people who want to change the rules, to draw the process out even longer. They are cheating in a supposedly fair, open competition by stacking the cards in the house’s favor,” he said. “The DPP’s primary process has been going on for two months, but now near the end, these people want to change the rules again.”

“The DPP is the first true political party for Taiwanese, and it must hold a fair and democratic presidential primary process,” You added. “As party members, we cannot accept such cheating.”

Janice Chen (陳昭姿), spokeswoman for former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) volunteer civilian medical team, reminded DPP executives of the party’s history and founding principles.

“The party’s name means that it stands for progress and democracy. How can party officials abandon these core principles by changing the rules and creating an undemocratic, opaque primary process?” she asked.

“DPP officials cannot just close the doors and tell people this is an in-house matter,” she said. “Taiwanese raised the DPP from an infant into an adult. We did this over the past decades with bloodshed, tears and financial support. It only has about 200,000 registered members, but in each election, the DPP garnered several million votes. It must also listen to our voice.”

“We have supported the DPP with our ballots through thick and thin,” she added. “If the DPP does not abide by an open, democratic process, then Taiwanese will be left with bitterness and resentment, and we might not cast our ballots for the DPP next time.”

Ketagalan Institute president Chin Heng-wei (金恆煒) said that waves of discontent over the primary rule changes and postponement have been affecting grassroots supporters.

“As the situation gets worse, antagonism is growing between supporters of the two candidates and the DPP is at risk of losing support from large portions of traditional voters,” Chin said.

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