Comrades Still Treat Each Other This Way
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
May 10, 2012
Summary: When the Democratic Progressive Party held its 2012 presidential primaries, the Tsai Ing-wen faction called on party members to "Support Tsai Ing-wen and Tsai Ing-wen alone." It accused Su Tseng-chang of supporting the KMT's mobilization of farm associations. Su was forced to call a press conference to defend himself. "We are all members of the same party. Comrades should not treat each other this way!" Su Tseng-chang later lost to Tsai Ing-wen. Should comrades treat each other this way? Perhaps not. But what are you going to do about it?
Full Text below:
When the Democratic Progressive Party held its 2012 presidential primaries, the Tsai Ing-wen faction called on party members to "Support Tsai Ing-wen and Tsai Ing-wen alone." It accused Su Tseng-chang of supporting the KMT's mobilization of farm associations. Su was forced to call a press conference to defend himself. "We are all members of the same party. Comrades should not treat each other this way!" Su Tseng-chang later lost to Tsai Ing-wen.
History is repeating itself. The current DPP party chairmanship election has become a dress rehearsal for the 2016 presidential election. Rival factions have already begun attacking Su Tseng-chang. Supporters of Tsai Ing-wen are using harsh language in their attacks against him. Every word draws blood. Su Tseng-chang said "Comrades should not treat each other this way." But comrades are treating each other this way. This time the danger to Su is even greater than before.
Su Tseng-chang suddenly finds himself besieged on all sides. Some criticize Su's style and image. Hsu Hsin-liang accuses Su of "failing to assume responsibility" by turning down the party chairmanship in 2008. Trong Chai accuses Su of "nominating himself" during the Taipei mayoral election. He says Su's transgression warrants expulsion from the party. Meanwhile others question Su's political stance. Yao Chia-wen accuses him of being insufficiently "Taiwan-centric" or "pro-Taiwan independence." The Chen Shui-bian faction even says if Su becomes party chairman the One Country Each Side Connection may split and form its own party. Koo Kuan-min bluntly proclaimed, "Mr. Su, I disapprove of your candidacy!"
This powerful wave of "Topple Su" sentiment may represent the most intense infighting within the Green Camp since the "Condemn Kang Ning-hsiang" campaign in 1983. It may be more intense than the infighting that ensued when Hsu Hsin-liang and Shih Ming-teh were expelled. This wave of infighting involves an ideological struggle over the party's political path. over whether to pardon Chen Shui-bian, and over unresolved difference between Su and Hsieh. More importantly, it is inextricably linked with the 2016 "Su vs. Tsai Rematch." For the factions involved it amounts o all out war.
Su Tseng-chang has decided to run for party chairman. He made a conspicuous attempt to ensure a seat for himself. He hopes to use the power of the party chairmanship to manage the situation. Who knew the tide would turn against him? Even if he is elected party chairman he is likely to become a target for all parties. He has become the storm center within the party. If Su Tseng-chang cannot become the universally acknowledged leader of the party, he is likely to become the universally acknowledged enemy of the party. The main reason? Su Tseng-chang has set his sights on the 2016 presidential election. Meanwhile support within the party for a Tsai Ing-wen candidacy in 2016 is growing. If Su Tseng-chang becomes party chairman, Tsai Ing-wen's supporters will see that as a roadblock.
Among the party nomenklatura, Su Tseng-chang has become "a rat crossing the street," i.e., a whipping boy. But at the party membership level he still has enough support to win the party chairmanship. If he is elected party chairman however, he will immediately face a serious rift within the DPP. If he wants to heal the rift, he must mollify all the factions. Otherwise all hope of transforming the party will be lost. Will infighting erupt? How severe will it be? This is all up to others. This is all beyond Su Tseng-chang's control. When infighting erupts, the tree may wish to remain still, but the wind will continue to blow. Suppose Su is determined to enter the 2016 presidential race? His opponents will insist on Tsai Ing-wen. Unless one side yields, the internal struggle will intensify, until it is totally out of control.
This is the crisis the DPP faces in 2016. DPP leaders must put out the fires before the party chairmanship election. If they wait until the election results are announced, it will be too late to do anything about it. Consider one option. Su Tseng-chang announces that he will not run for president in 2016. Consider another option. The anti-Su and pro-Su factions reach an accord, and Su becomes party chairman. Otherwise, if Su is elected party chairman. then sets his sights on 2016, supporters of Tsai Ing-wen will refuse to yield. That would mark the beginning of a four year long Su vs. Tsai battle for the party's presidential nomination. The polls for the party chairmanship election open on May 27. The consequences are frightening to imagine.
The best way the Democratic Progressive Party can help itself, is to undergo reform and transformation. Unfortunately it is caught in a power struggle between Su Tseng-chang and Tsai Ing-wen. Apparently Su has been demonized all out of proportion. Tsai has been deified all out of proportion. Predictably this power struggle has increased factional tensions to the limit. It is certain to undermine reform and transformation. If Su Tseng-chang is elected party chairman, Tsai supporters will demand that he endorse Tsai Ing-wen's cross-Strait policy. If the anti-Su forces can unite the party behind a single candidate, Taiwan independence hardliners and those who support exchanges may create a deadlock difficult to break. Ironically "transformation" has become a bargaining chip in the power struggle. It is now difficult to hold high expectations for the DPP. The Su vs. Cai power struggle has underscored this point, This bodes ill for reform.
Should comrades treat each other this way? Perhaps not. But what are you going to do about it?
2012.05.10 02:49 am