A Crooked Triangle: Chen Shui-bian, Su Tseng-chang, Tsai Ing-wen
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
May 28, 2013
Summary: A power struggle and policy struggle took place recently within the DPP, during its All Peoples Conference. What direction the party takes will depend in large part on the triangular relationship between Chen Shui-bian, Su Tseng-chang, and Tsai Ing-wen. As recent events have shown, this changeable scalene triangle might appropriately be termed a "crooked triangle."
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A power struggle and policy struggle took place recently within the DPP, during its All Peoples Conference. What direction the party takes will depend in large part on the triangular relationship between Chen Shui-bian, Su Tseng-chang, and Tsai Ing-wen. As recent events have shown, this changeable scalene triangle might appropriately be termed a "crooked triangle."
Last Saturday the DPP held its All Peoples Conference. Yet again, Tsai Ing-wen left early. She left a parting shot. Addressing Su Tseng-chang, she said "I am leaving early. This way the current chairman will feel less constrained." Addressing Chen Shui-bian, she said "I hope he (Chen Shui-bian) will make more of an effort, and allow the community to accept him, and sympathize with him."
Her tone suggested someone of higher status addressing someone of lower status, of someone more powerful addressing someone less powerful. Yet again, Tsai Ing-wen left early. This means "Su Tseng-chang was ill at ease." It also means Tsai Ing-wen is under no duty to endorse Su Tseng-chang. Tsai Ing-wen urged Chen Shui-bian to "make more of an effort." She said "the DPP's basic values and judgments regarding right and wrong must not be obscured." She was solemnly warning party members who support Chen Shui-bian that enough is enough, and to quit while they are ahead.
Tsai Ing-wen can be considered the biggest winner of the All Peoples Conference. One. So-called "party member balloting" was Su Tseng-chang's "political accomplishment." Tsai Ing-wen championed opinion polls that poll the entire population. In the end, 221 votes trumped 66 votes, and upheld opinion polls that poll the entire population. Two. Regarding "restoring Chen Shui-bian's party membership" Su Tseng-chang originally said he would respect the All Peoples Conference "public verdict." Later he changed his tune. He said "Chen must personally request restoration of party membership," and shelved the issue for later. This provoked Tsai Ing-wen's later statement, "The DPP's basic values and judgments about right and wrong must not be obscured." The shelving of this issue also reflected Tsai Ing-wen's original intent. Three. The "Resolution on Human Rights in the Taiwan Strait" was spearheaded by Tsai Ing-wen forces. This invokes the name of "human rights" in exchanges with Mainland China. It was passed on to the Central Executive Committee. But it reveals the Tsai faction's ambition to set cross-Strait policy.
During the recent All Peoples Conference Chen Shui-bian elevated his criminal prosecution from a matter of "inmate treatment" to what Annette Lu referred to as the "regrouping of political forces." Chen now demands "political vindication," and not merely "medical parole."
As matters stand, the All Peoples Conference will not grant Ah-Bian "political vindication." Even the proposal that "Chen must personally request restoration of party membership" remains controversial. Ah-Bian did not resign from the party. His party membership was revoked. Chen Shui-bian says he does not want to force the All Peoples Conference to vote on whether to restore his party membership. He says it has already indicated its goodwill, and that he is backing off. He said that if he personally requests restoration of party membership, touching off a firestorm, he will be subject to insults by anti-Chen elements, and the situation will worsen. Given this trend, Tsai Ing-wen would be Chen Shui-bian supporters number one target. This is immediately evident from Ah-Bian supporters' recent violent attacks against Tsai Ing-wen.
Tsai has attempted to reject Ah-Bian and defend against attacks by Ah-Bian from the very beginning. This is clear for all to see, But she also hopped on the party's "humane treatment" and "political persecution" bandwagons. She did not expect the Ah-Bian forces to be so insatiable. They raised the ante. They are now demanding "political rehabilitation" and the "regrouping of political forces." This forced Tsai Ing-wen to slam on the brakes. Chen Chih-chung asked, "Shouldn't we be asking Tsai Ing-wen to make more of an effort, and run for president once more in 2016?" But who does not know that Chen Shui-bian's demands for "political vindication" and a "regrouping of political forces" must be kept under the radar, assuming Tsai Ing-wen wishes to make a run for the presidency in 2016.
Within both the party and the community, Su Tseng-chang enjoys less support than Tsai Ing-wen. Su Tseng-chang's strategy is to pander to Taiwan independence elements, most of whom are Ah-Bian supporters. But opinion polls that poll the entire population renders this approach useless in the party's presidential primaries. Therefore, Su Tseng-chang has been forced to change tactics. Instead of attempting to prevail over Tsai during the the party primaries, he must now throw obstacles in the way of Tsai Ing-wen's policy path and election campaign. He must also attempt to make life difficult for Tsai Ing-wen in the event she is actually elected. Given Su Tseng-chang's current plight, assuming he is petty and narrow-minded, he may choose to position himself as a champion of DPP fundamentalism. He may refuse to help Tsai Ing-wen clear away obstacles to her election campaign or her ruling administration. People such as this are irrational and unreasonable. But the DPP has no shortage of them. Therefore if a different Su Tseng-chang emerges, one should not be surprised.
Chen Chih-chung said "Tsai Ing-wen must also make an effort." He sounded the trumpets. Chen Shui-bian's counterattack has begun. If the conflict cannot be resolved, the "restoration of party membership" issue will become even more controversial during next year's All Peoples Conference. The 2016 general election will be even closer. The situation will become even more sinister. Given such developments, Su Tseng-chang will be at a greater disadvantage than ever. He will bear even greater responsibility. Tsai Ing-wen holds the upper hand. For her, suppressing Chen Shui-bian and promoting DPP cross-Strait policy reform is of greater urgency than it is for Su Tseng-chang. Su Tseng-chang is still pandering to Taiwan independence elements in a last-ditch attempt to prevail over Tsai Ing-wen. He knows he is weak, but is unwilling to set the ball up for Tsai Ing-wen. Therefore he is ambivalent about these issues. Su and Tsai might well end up in a lose-lose situation, Of course, this may be precisely what Su Tseng-chang is counting on.
Ah-Bian, Su, and Tsai form a crooked triangle. It is already crooked. The only question is how much more crooked will it get.
2013.05.28 02:43 am