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

Chen: Yes. The only explanation for it is “absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

When the DPP was in opposition, it had no resources or spoils to divide; people who shared common ideals were drawn to the party. At the time, without resources and power, those with the tenacity to hold fast to their ideals rose. Many at that time were unbridled and expressed their opinions with vigour.

One reason that the DPP obtained the power — aside from winning the public’s approval by virtue of its campaign promises — was because the adjustment it made by enlisting people from local KMT forces, such as [now-DPP Legislator] Chen Ming-wen (陳明文).

Chen was originally a KMT member, a provincial council member with ties to farmers’ associations, which dominated the local political scene. Because it took over the KMT’s local forces, the DPP grew quickly. However, with quantitative change there came qualitative change.

For instance, Chen was convicted for revealing to a bidder the lowest tender offered for a project during his stint as Chiayi county commissioner. In the past, if one was convicted of corruption, they would have been stripped of their DPP membership, or at least have it suspended. Not only did that not happen to Chen, he became a co-convener of the party’s Electoral Strategy Committee.

It appears that ideals and principles are being cast aside by the DPP and what prevails is political reality, with no one daring challenge the one in power.

The second time the DPP came to power was because people were disappointed with [former president] Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) eight-year governance. Having won the executive and legislative branches should have been a good thing [giving the party an opportunity to realize its funding ideals.] However, it has become more conservative, walking the path of the old KMT, which used to oppose to people’s right to exercise direct democracy.

It seems that the party has given up its responsibilities and just wants to enjoy the power.

TT: You mentioned those who will “vote for the DPP with tears.” Wouldn’t such a rationale end up consolidating a party’s power, rather than its founding ideals and values?

Chen: In recent years the DPP indeed has given rise to the feeling that it is holding pan-green camp voters hostage in the sense that “if you don’t vote for me, who else can you vote for, as you will not vote for the KMT.”

However, as I have often said, the DPP is not the highest value, and nor is the KMT. Back then [during the party-state era] when there were no political parties, we challenged authority by fighting for freedom of expression, and pursuing democracy and sovereignty for Taiwan.

How are these things not important now that we have political parties?

Why is the importance now placed on which party wins an election?

A DPP election win is not wanted if it is suppressing human rights and failing to uphold its ideal of Taiwanese independence, and social justice and such things.

I think there is room for a third force. It is simply a matter of whether it possesses the credibility needed to prove to Taiwanese that they can have confidence in it. That could be a reminder to the two major parties not to take the people for granted.

TT: How is Taiwan to deepen its democracy if a party that championed democracy is seen as losing touch with its founding ideals?

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