Mon, Jul 08, 2019 - Page 3 News List

INTERVIEW: Independence advocate says DPP lost founding ideals

Veteran democracy advocate Chen Yung-hsing told ‘Taipei Times’ staff reporter Huang Tai-lin that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential primary has resulted in a split among the Taiwan-centric groups, with some deeming the process unfair, while others said they must support the DPP in elections no matter what, or else the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) would win

Taipei Times (TT): As a member of the “DPP presidential primary observer group,” what are your observation of the primary? Some said outsiders should leave the DPP’s internal affairs alone. What are your thoughts?

Chen Yung-hsing (陳永興): Although a primary is a party’s own affair, if the mechanism is ill-constructed, it would have a negative effect on society. The process of the DPP primary was full of flaws.

Rules for primaries were promulgated a long time ago, yet after [former premier] William Lai (賴清德) registered, the DPP’s performance has been preposterous. Aside from delaying the timetable twice, it changed the design of polling [in the middle of the primary] by adding cellphone polling to what had previously been done exclusively via landline.

Cellphone polling is prone to fraud and cannot reflect actual public opinion, as there are many in Taiwan who have multiple cellphone numbers, while junior-high school students and foreign migrant workers also have them.

There are also questions over how the sampling base was assembled.

The DPP cannot provide a reasonable answer to these questions and many, including polling experts, remain doubtful over the poll results.

President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) supporters of course welcomed the primary result, while most DPP officials likely breathed a sigh of relief.

For Lai’s supporters, the reactions are complex: Some are of the opinion that despite the legitimacy concerns, the result is out and Lai was a good sport by not challenging the results, so they should nonetheless “vote for the DPP with tears,” while others, infuriated over the lack of fairness in the primary process, refuse to support the DPP.

TT: With democracy billed as a core value, why did no one challenge the primary process?

Chen: We are just as astounded over how the party, after Tsai gained total dominance — and particularly while it had the executive and legislative branches — would become unrecognizable to people who knew it.

In light of the events of the primary, the DPP’s insistence that it is democratic is no longer convincing; it has become a party that allows no dissenting opinions.

It is like watching a contest with two players on the field, and Tsai, seeing she would lose, asking the referee to change the rules from a 100m sprint to a 1,500m middle-distance race, then to 5,000m run. In the end, she won.

Tricks were pulled and bad examples were set. If I were to support such a candidate, it would be like telling Taiwanese that resorting to any means to win is acceptable.

We should let Taiwanese see that there is a standard of right and wrong, and winning is not all that matters.

TT: Holding referendums is another founding ideal of the DPP. After the DPP-controlled legislature amended the Referendum Act (公民投票法) and excluded issues such as the nation’s official title and territory from being put to referendums, it last month also decoupled referendums from national elections, a move that critics say is tantamount to depriving Taiwanese of comprehensive referendum rights, as delinking would reduce voter turnout and the chances of a successful referendum. As a long-time advocate of democracy who witnessed the DPP arising from the "dangwai" [黨外, “outside the party”] movement with its founding in 1986 to now having held total control of the central government, do you feel that it has undergone a qualitative change?

This story has been viewed 2718 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top