Monday, June 25, 2007

The DPP has lost its Soul

The DPP has lost its Soul
United Daily News editorial
translated by Bevin Chu
June 23, 2007

As a result of vicious infighting during the party primaries, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidates wound up airing each others' dirty laundry. The dirty tricks that candidates pulled on each, such as falsifying the opinion polls that helped determine the final candidate roster, left the average citizen flabbergasted. The DPP Central Committee, which has provided a negative example for the party, has chosen to deal with the ugly mess by passing the buck. Apparently the DPP doesn't realize this scandal constitutes a major crisis.

The falsified opinion polls came to light primarily because of the Central Party Committee's improper "Exclude Blue" clause. This greatly limited the sample size of the target population, enabling candidates to take advantage of convenient loopholes. Huang Chien-hui, for example, applied for and obtained 1,000 telephone numbers from the phone company. Tsao Lai-wang, for example, installed a special telecommunications transfer device in a retirement home he owned. Their purpose was to inflate their own poll numbers. DPP candidates' skill at corrupt election practices is truly extraordinary. Their ability to make use of science and technology to totally invalidate the results of public opinion polls, is truly eye opening.

Once the scientific basis of opinion polls has been discredited, then the fairness of the nomination process has also been invalidated. After such an election, is anything above suspicion? What is really interesting is how cavalier the DPP is about the matter. Party members have raised all sorts of questions, but the Central Party Committee has indicated it has no intention of investigating the matter on its own initiative. When party members who lodged protests investigated matters and offered evidence on their own, the Central Party Committee made clear it still had no intention of conducting any further investigations or imposing any punishments. This may be motivated by the desire to keep the scandal under wraps, or by the hope that the struggle between Frank Hsieh and Su Tseng-chang would subside as soon as possible. But it has left outsiders with the impression that the DPP cares nothing about morality and ethics, and turns a blind eye to fraud and deception.

This election was merely a party primary within the DPP. But the DPP is the ruling party. As the ruling party it must prove that it is capable of and committed to holding free and fair elections. In recent years, repeated incidents of DPP election fraud have left people with serious doubts about its integrity. These include the infamous Bulletgate scandal during the 2004 presidential election; two Kaohsiung mayoral elections; one involving audio tapes of alleged KMT candidate marital infidelity, later confirmed to be fake; the other involving dubious video footage of alleged KMT vote buying; and last but not least, DPP vote buying during the Taipei County magistrate's election. These have led the public to seriously doubt whether the DPP is willing to compete fairly in the democratic process. Chen Chu's election to Kaohsiung mayor has been declared invalid due to rule violations. Does the DPP have no desire whatsoever to regain public trust by investigating party primary malfeasance?

Even more incredibly, Lin Shufen, a member of the Su Tseng-chang camp, has accused Huang Chien-hui, a member of the Frank Hsieh camp, of using 1,000 telephones to influence public opinion polls. This result of this dispute was that Huang Chien-hui, along with three party elders, citing "larger considerations" announced his withdrawal from the race. The Central Party Committee attempts to sweep the candidates' dirty tricks under the rug, only made them more apparent.

Think about it. If Huang Chien-hui had a clear conscience, why did he refuse to be investigated? Doesn't quietly withdrawing his candidacy amount to a tacit admission that he cheated? Since the Central Party Committee could force him to withdraw from the race, that means they already had concrete evidence in their possession. But the party committee chose not to investigate the truth, to impose party discipline, and to shine a light on the matter. Instead it helped him pretend he was withdrawing because he was a "stand up guy" who sacrificed himself for the greater good of the party. This amounted to deceiving the voters. Huang Chien-hui's withdrawal from the race may have allowed the DPP to hide the skeletons in its closet. But in fact it buried the DPP's soul along with Huang Chien-hui. Is this what they consider the "greater good?"

The acquisition of extra telephones to inflate his own poll numbers may have been a new trick unique to this primary election. But other illegal methods such as issuing a flood of cell phone text messages smearing one's rivals, and entertaining local political bosses with illegal banquets and junkets, have popped up continuously. Especially serious examples include mobilizing the media to carry out simultaneous one-sided criticisms, smears, and malicious personal attacks. These tactics led to the annihilation of the Su Tseng-chang camp and the so-called "Eleven Brigands." These tactics reveal that the DPP, in its quest for victory, will resort to any means at its disposal. If they are willing to behave so viciously toward comrades within their own party, what aren't they willing to do to seize power amidst the Blue vs. Green political struggle?

After Huang Chien-hui withdrew from the election, rumors emerged that he joined the Frank Hsieh team to help with the 2008 presidential election. Based on his conduct during the party primary election, what kind of impression is Huang's participation going to give the public, in the event the campaign needs to rely on his "creativity,"

In recent years the DPP's election ploys have gradually moved toward a dead end of "technique over substance." This includes the unconstitutional "linkage" of plebiscites to elections, control of the Central Election Commission, the delivery of political pork by means of patronage, even the setting of election dates. Every one of these have become tools for the manipulation of elections. This has eroded not only the spirit of fair play, but even the substance of democratic politics. This is why the DPP's malfeasance during its party primary received so much attention. The public may be in no position to question the degeneration of morals within the DPP. But the problem is this party is currently the ruling party. If it is incapable of holding a free and fair election, what will become of Taiwan's democracy?

Original Chinese below:

2007.06.23 03:34 am










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