Chen wants nomination reform

REFORM MEASURES: The president urged the Democratic Progressive Party to show people it meant business by revamping its legislator-at-large nomination procedure

By Chang Yun-ping  /  STAFF REPORTER

Wed, Jun 02, 2004 - Page 3

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday instructed the party to study reform measures for the nomination of legislators-at-large, as rumors of vote-buying in the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) recent primary threatened to taint the party's image and dent its prospects in the year-end legislative elections.

Speaking at the party's Central Executive Committee (CEC) meeting, the party's highest decision-making body, Chen -- the party's chairman -- said yesterday "the nomination list of legislators-at-large is tantamount to the party's image, and society sees it as an index of whether the DPP has shifted away from its core values in pushing for reform. Therefore, the DPP is obligated to come up with a nomination list to convince the public."

"The spirit of endeavoring for progress and reform is what a mature ruling party should have," Chen told the closed-door CEC meeting yesterday, in which the vote-buying issue in the primary was still the focus of the discussion.

Chen yesterday instructed a group of party officials to revamp part of the party regulations stipulating the legislator-at-large primary.

The revisions will be presented at the next party congress slated to be convened on July 18.

Director of the DPP's Information and Culture Department Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦) yesterday said two major reform measures to stamp out vote-buying practices regarding legislators-at-large have been proposed.

The nomination process was significantly altered during the party's April congress, in which it divided legislators-at-large into "politician" and "expert" groups, with the former being selected through party member votes and opinion polls, while the latter were nominated through the party's "nomination committee" headed by the party chairman.

DPP Legislator Hung Chi-chang (洪奇昌), a member of the Central Standing Committee who is also vying for a legislator-at-large nomination, yesterday said the infighting created by vote-buying allegations posed grave danger to the party.

Senior Legislator Hsu Jung-shu (許榮淑) yesterday urged the party to study the immunity system and set up rewards to encourage party members to testify against candidates who conducted vote-buying.

Kaohsiung City Mayor Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), a Central Standing Committee member, yesterday suggested the party cancel the party primary, which he said had achieved its transitional mission of demonstrating democratic procedures, since primaries were first held in 1986.

The party's CEC meeting yesterday also nominated for a total of 10 candidates for the Kaohsiung City Councilor by-election, which is slated to be held on July 17, and three other legislative candidates summoned to represent the party in eastern coast's Taitung County, and high-land Aboriginal and low-land Aboriginal areas.