Chairman Su's Anxieties About Losing Power Will Harm DPP
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
December 28, 2012
Summary: Few political parties in democratic nations are like DPP. The DPP may be the ruling party or in the opposition. But it never seems to be able to rid itself of its bad habits. It takes to the streets at the drop of a hat. It apparently needs protests to remind itself that it still exists. It's virtually a case of "I protest, therefore I am." Most Democratic Progressive Party leaders reflexively resort to mass movements whenever they find themselves facing a crisis of confidence. DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang has organized a "Raging Citizens Protest March." But frankly, the only reason for the protest march is to firm up Su's hold on power.
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Few political parties in democratic nations are like DPP. The DPP may be the ruling party or in the opposition. But it never seems to be able to rid itself of its bad habits. It takes to the streets at the drop of a hat. It apparently needs protests to remind itself that it still exists. It's virtually a case of "I protest, therefore I am." Most Democratic Progressive Party leaders reflexively resort to mass movements whenever they find themselves facing a crisis of confidence. DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang has organized a "Raging Citizens Protest March." But frankly, the only reason for the protest march is to firm up Su's hold on power.
The DPP party princes know the score. They know that the best defense is a good offense. Toward the end of Chen Shui-bian's presidency, the First Family corruption scandals came to light. Outside the DPP, the anti-corruption movement demanded that the president step down. Inside the DPP, party leaders demanded house-cleaning. Chen Shui-bian used an old trick to defuse the crisis. He mobilized the masses to consolidate the leadership. Similarly, during the Taipei mayoral election, he deliberately downplayed the political colorations of the contending parties. Su Tseng-chang constantly shouts "Transcend!" But now he is eager to return to the streets. Like Chen Shui-bian, he is attempting to use internal pressure to effect external change.
Earlier this year the DPP lost the presidential election, despite considerable political momentum. Calls are being heard from inside the party, demanding a pragmatic cross-Strait policy. Su Tseng-chang is the most popular of the party princes. He took over as party chairman in May. Most DPP supporters are pinning their hopes on him. The Ma administration raised both gasoline prices and electricity rates. It imposed a capital gains tax. These provoked intense controversy. President Ma's leadership is in question. Public support is plummeting. This is the ideal time for the opposition DPP to strut its stuff. It is also the time for Su Tseng-chang to demonstrate his leadership.
Su Tseng-chang convened several "open forums." He allowed everyone to speak his peace. But he failed to offer any proposals or policies of his own. Middle-aged party leaders have become frustrated. Julian J. Kuo criticized him. He said, "Leaders must offer solutions to problems. They have to do more than just organize book club meetings." He put it even more bluntly. He said Su Tseng-chang was "afraid of losing power." That is why Su is afraid to implement Taiwan's most desperately needed reforms.
Put simply, Julian J. Kuo said the emperor was naked. During the DPP party chairmanship election, Su's rivals challenged him. They said Su Tseng-chang has his eye on the presidency. But as party chairman, Su cannot afford to be wishy-washy. He must have the courage to push for radical reform. Unfortunately for Su, their criticisms were dead on.
The DPP established a China Affairs Committee. The public hoped Frank Hsieh would be made Committee Convener. Frank Hsieh is the only DPP leader offering a way for the DPP to communicate with the CCP. He has been walking the walk. In October, his "breaking the ice journey" paved the way for the highest level talks ever held between the DPP and the CCP. If DPP leaders had any vision, they would have made Frank Hsieh the leader of the DPP's cross-Strait policy reform effort. The DPP has nothing to show for a decade of cross-Strait policy reform. If Su Tseng-chang made peace with Frank Hsieh, it would help his own bid for higher office.
Such cooperation would be both a public and private benefit. Yet Su Tseng-chang shunned it. He publicly declared that Frank Hsieh's "different constitutions, different interpretations" was not a DPP position. Su eventually established a China Affairs Committee. But the committee merely studies the Mainland. It does not communicate with it. To establish such a hollow entity so late in the game, is to turn the clock back. Sure enough, Frank Hsieh realized what was going on, and resigned. Other DPP elders were not interested either. The committee was established three months ago. The DPP still cannot find enough people willing to become committee members. The so-called China Affairs Committee is an empty shell that merely goes through the motions.
The DPP missed an opportunity to transform the party. This was the result of Su Tseng-chang's myopia. Why was he afraid to adopt a pragmatic cross-Strait policy? The only motive that can explain his behavior is fear of losing power. Su was preoccupied with appeasing the Deep Greens. He was determined to defeat Tsai Ing-wen, his biggest rival in the DPP. He wanted an admission ticket to the presidential race. Su Tseng-chang was eager to pander to the Deep Greens. Cross-strait policy continues to stagnate. The January 13 "Raging Citizen Protest March" reflects Su Tseng-chang's anxieties about his hold on power. Nothing more
Su Tseng-chang is taking the DPP back onto the streets. This may enable him to consolidate his Green Camp leadership. But it also constitutes to a setback for the DPP. The DPP's "Raging Citizens Protest March" plagiarizes the name of the labor based "Raging Citizens Act Now" coalition, and twists the meaning of the coalition's protests. The ROC's largest opposition party is making fraudulent use of the name of an NGO dedicated to protecting the disadvantaged. This shows that the DPP has not grown since it was founded over 20 years ago. A trade unionist in the Raging Citizens Act Now coalition blasted the DPP. He asked, is the DPP so intellectually bankrupt that it must pirate the strategies of a tiny labor organization?
Su Tseng-chang is busy pandering to the Deep Greens. He knows only how to take to the streets. But even the Green Camp knows these tricks are outdated. DPP heavyweight Su Huan-chih was blunt. He said offering policy proposals is more important than organizing a "Raging Citizens Protest March." This criticism was leveled at the DPP by one of its own. Su Huan-chi said Su Tseng-chang's political calculations were made purely for the sake of personal power. Unfortunately the party lacks the ability to offer sound policies. It lacks the ability to reacquire power. A leader who fails to understand policy, can never become president.