Su Tseng-chang must not force Frank Hsieh to operate outside the Party Framework
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
October 22, 2012
Summary: Has "Su/Hsieh cooperation" been shattered? That is no longer the issue. The real issue is whether the DPP is about to break up as a political party. For this Su Tseng-chang must bear primary responsibility. An October 18th editorial published by this newspaper urged Su Tseng-chang to lift the lid off a boiling pot, and allow the chloroform to boil off. Su Tseng-chang's current responsibility is to lift the lid. Who will be the chloroform boiled off? That depends on the party as a whole. The party chairman may not deprive the party of a major democratic debate over party reform.
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Has "Su/Hsieh cooperation" been shattered? That is no longer the issue. The real issue is whether the DPP is about to break up as a political party. For this Su Tseng-chang must bear primary responsibility.
Frank Hsieh has already crossed the Rubicon. He is not about to let matters rest. The situation is clear. Su Tseng-chang must allow Frank Hsieh to force a show down inside the party. Otherwise Hsieh will continue to promote his agenda outside the party. Su Tseng-chang is party chairman. He is a 2016 presidential contender. He has an unshirkable responsibility, both to himself and to the party. He must defuse the dispute over party reform from inside the party. He must not allow it to become a struggle between those inside the party and those outside the party. That would lead to the party breaking apart.
Frank Hsieh now stands on the great divide between the party and the outside world. He can take one step one way and find himself inside the party framework. Or he can take one step the other way, and find himself outside the party framework. One. Frank Hsieh has every right to expect Su Tseng-chang to deal with party reform from inside the party, in his capacity as DPP leader. After all, DPP reform is not Frank Hsieh's private agenda. The DPP and the public on Taiwan are also involved. Party Chairman Su Tseng-chang cannot refuse to deal with the most serious controversy pertaining to DPP reform since its founding as a political party. If Su Tseng-chang tackles the issue of party reform from within the party, then Frank Hsieh must remain inside the party. He cannot go outside the party.
But if Su Tseng-chang slams the door shut, and refuses to deal with party reform from within the party, Frank Hsieh will be forced to go outside the party. The two men will find themselves on different paths. One. Frank Hsieh said "The DPP will not break apart." But Hsieh staffers have already let it be known that if Su/Hsieh cooperation is shattered, Frank Hsieh's Taiwan Reform Foundation "has not ruled out going its own way." It would become an NGO promoting DPP/CCP exchanges. Meanwhile, Taiwan-oriented think tanks on the Chinese mainland have also responded. They say there is no reason not to hold DPP/CCP exchanges, with the Taiwan Reform Foundation taking the lead. Its desire to divide the DPP and incite conflict is all too clear. This path is of course outside the party framework.
Two. Suppose Su Tseng-chang forces Frank Hsieh to operate outside the party? Frank Hsieh and Tsai Ing-wen may well join forces. Add to this "DPP/CCP exchanges, with the Taiwan Reform Foundation taking the lead." The DPP would effectively end up with two suns to revolve around, two party leadership centers, and two cross-Strait policy paths. If this happens, those outside the party would oppose those inside the party. It would without a doubt lead to a breakup of the party.
One cannot place all the blame on Frank Hsieh. One cannot say he "forced the emperor to abdicate." This is a turning point in history. Party Chairman Su Tseng-chang must not refuse to reform the party from within. If he does, he will be evading his "destiny." The master switch is in Su Tseng-chang's hands. He can flick the switch one way -- inside the party. He can flick the switch the other way -- outside the party. It all hinges on his whim. On the 18th this newspaper published an editorial saying that Su Tseng-chang should not be bound by either the reform camp or the Taiwan independence camp. He should let go of all attachments. He should adopt a transcendent stance befitting the party chairman. He should adopt an attitude of noblesse oblige. He should enable the two sides to engage in democratic debate over party reform. He should even consider putting the issue to a democratic vote. Su Tseng-chang should act as a midwife. Intraparty democracy will determine whether the child is a boy or a girl. But he must not delude himself. He must not imagine he can shove the infant back into the womb. Su Tseng-chang can show that he is neither being forced to abdicate by the Hsieh faction, nor being hijacked by the Taiwan independence faction. This is how he can maintain a commanding position above the two rival factions with the party.
How else can Su Tseng-chang deal with Frank Hsieh? He can hardly allow himself to remain mired within this embarrassing dilemma, where he neither fights nor surrenders, neither joins with nor splits from Frank Hsieh. How much political capital can Su Tseng-chang afford to squander? Can the DPP avoid the risk that the party may break apart?
The problem has reached the point where one can neither advance nor retreat. The main reasons are the 2016 presidential election and longstanding grievances between Su, Tsai, and Hsieh. This is the situation they face. We would like to reiterate the appeal we made in our September 11th editorial, "Su, Tsai, and Hsieh Must Unite to Promote DPP Reform." The three should first draw up plans for party reform, then worry about the presidential election. They should work together to promote this difficult reform, within the party. They should not conflate the work of party reform with the presidential election and intraparty power struggles. Otherwise the result could be a lose/lose/lose proposition. The future of the DPP itself could be at risk. If reformers are forced to operate outside the party, Beijing will support the Taiwan Reform Foundation platform. The Taiwan Reform Foundation platform will join the Tsai/Hsieh alliance. The Tsai/Hsieh alliance will oppose Su Tseng-chang and the party leadership. The DPP will effectively end up with two suns to revolve around, two party leadership centers, and two cross-Strait policy paths. Can the DPP afford such a schism?
The DPP finds itself in a dilemma. It is on the verge of breaking apart. Party Chairman Su Tseng-chang must adopt a transcendent posture and champion intraparty democracy. He must begin a democratic dialogue. This will enable him to maintain his transcendent status. Otherwise Su Tseng-chang may go down in infamy as someone who suppressed intraparty democracy which led to the breakup of the party.
An October 18th editorial published by this newspaper urged Su Tseng-chang to lift the lid off a boiling pot, and allow the chloroform to boil off. Su Tseng-chang's current responsibility is to lift the lid. Who will be the chloroform boiled off? That depends on the party as a whole. The party chairman may not deprive the party of a major democratic debate over party reform.