Su unveils DPP membership reforms

TARGETING GANGSTERS::The party chairman said the reforms particularly focus on mass applications by gang members, who could try to influence election outcomes

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Thu, May 02, 2013 - Page 3

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) yesterday outlined a reform of the party’s recruitment policies amid recent controversies surrounding reported cases of mass applications, the involvement of gangsters and the party’s oft criticized nominal member system.

The most significant change relates to DPP members’ eligibility to vote in party elections — the primary reason behind recent mass applications. From this year, eligible voters must be members who have been in the party for at least two years, rather than the previous one-year requirement, Su told a press conference following the party’s weekly Central Standing Committee meeting.

The party would also adopt a stricter review of membership applications, conduct a comprehensive re-examination of current members and demand that members participate in events organized by local party offices to eliminate the “dummy member” phenomenon.

A three-man task force — DPP Legislator Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康) as convener, along with DPP legislators Chiu Yi-ying (邱議瑩) and Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) — has been established to probe recent cases of mass applications, many reportedly from gang members, Su said.

The sudden surge in membership applications a year before major elections is not uncommon, the chairman said.

The DPP said approximately 30,000 new members have applied this year, a lot fewer than in 2000 when more than 180,000 new members joined the party after the DPP’s victory in the presidential election, Su said.

Su said the reform plan particularly focuses on potential organized mass applications by gang members, who could try to influence outcomes of intraparty elections or the party’s nominations for national elections.

The DPP would not let gang members join the party and it also has an anti-gangster regulation for candidates who run for public office, Su said.

Speaking before the Central Standing Committee meeting, former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) said extending the minimum requirement for voting from a one year to two years was a good option.

Former premier Yu Shyi-kun played down the significance of recent controversies, saying that even if the DPP failed to regulate itself, the public would monitor the party.

No irregular applications have been observed at the DPP’s Taipei City Office this year, office director Chuang Ruei-hsiung said.

However, Chuang raised concerns about how a stricter review process could be implemented.

“No one has a sticker saying ‘gangster’ posted on his or her forehead, nor can DPP local offices obtain criminal records from the government,” Chuang said.