Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) pledged reform on party membership applications and reviews yesterday in response to a snowballing controversy over member recruitment.
The party would change the review process for its member applications from nominal reviews to a stricter substantial review after recent mass membership applications involving gang members, Su told a press conference.
Since the founding of the party, the DPP welcomed all Taiwanese, the chairman said.
However, that mentality should change if people join the party with a specific agenda and motive, he said.
The party has been hit hard by reports of thousands of nominal membership applications at its local offices in Keelung and New Taipei City (新北市), with some applicants said to be members of criminal gangs.
Some Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) supporters are rumored to have tried to join the DPP to interfere with its party primary, which will elect party representatives and choose candidates for the mayoral elections next year.
As damage control, the DPP has rejected more than 400 applications in Keelung, where gang members were suspected of involvement in mass applications, but has not been able to stop media scrutiny over its nominal member system, a traditional DPP phenomenon long unresolved.
Regulation of membership reviews would be amended to ensure that all members support the party’s core values and enforce background checks for applicants, Su said.
Local office would be authorized to reject membership applications if more than two-thirds of the executive members of the office vetoed the applications, since local offices have better understanding of local communities, he said.
A re-examination committee would also be established at DPP Central Headquarters to handle appeal cases if applicants file complaints, DPP Secretary-General Lin Hsi-yao (林錫耀) said.
The chairman also addressed party concerns over the planned establishment of a reciprocal office across the Taiwan Strait in a meeting yesterday afternoon.
Honigmann Hong (洪財隆), director of the party’s Department of China Affairs, quoted Su as saying that the right for Taiwanese officials to visit detained Taiwanese in China should be included in the bilateral negotiations.
“Personal safety is the priority issue in negotiations,” Hong quoted Su as saying.