Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Chairman Yu is gone, but is Candidate Hsieh back?

Chairman Yu is gone, but is Candidate Hsieh back?
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
October 03, 2007

When future historians write the history of the Democratic Progressive Party, they may not know where to begin. Take the events of late September for example. On September 28, the eve of the DPP's Anniversary Celebration, the party chairman suddenly resigned. For the first time in its history, the party celebrated an anniversary without a party chairman. Next, on September 30, during the DPP's National Congress, Chen Shui-bian, the DPP's own sitting president, failed to show up. Finally, to top things off, Frank Hsieh, the party's own presidential candidate, sent word he had "worried himself sick" and would also be absent. The party had planned to give its nominee for president in 2008 a thunderous rally. Instead, because a party chairman was forced to submit his resignation over his vigorously promoted "Resolution for a Normal Nation," the curtain unceremoniously rang down on an anti-climactic debacle.

Apparently none of the DPP's Green Princes have been happy of late. The Chen Faction controls the overall situation, but certain developments have exceeded even his ability to control them. If circumstances force Chen to resume the DPP's party chairmanship, he will have to shoulder total responsibility for victory or defeat in the upcoming legislative and presidential elections. Annette Lu and Su Tseng-chang have not been in the spotlight for quite some time. Frank Hsieh and Yu Hsi-kuen find themselves in equally awkward predicaments. Yu aggressively promoted his "Resolution for a Normal Nation." During the Party Congress he was subjected to a humiliating vote of non confidence. Afterwards he had to endure mealy-mouthed lip service calling for his retention as chairman.

Hsieh's predicament is equally awkward. It is already October. Yet the party hierarchy has still been unable to create a consensus around their new leader. The Party Congress was supposed to consolidate support for Hsieh. Instead, bickering over a paper resolution blurred the focus of the event. The result was Hsieh, the star of the show, got upstaged by a supporting character. It's no wonder he "worried himself sick."

Hsieh is a mild mannered individual. For him to blurt out that "Government policy may be Chen's responsibility, but campaign policy is mine" shows he is no longer willing to suffer in silence, no longer willing to tolerate his increasing marginalization. Since his nomination as the party's presidential candidate, Hsieh has attempted to smooth over any ruffled feathers from the party primaries. He has purposely adopted a low profile. Unfortunately as matters stand, besides being a "presidential candidate," Frank Hsieh is a non-entitity. He lacks access to either party or government resources. Nor would he know where to acquire such resources. His running mate was forced upon him. Even control over the theme of his election campaign has fallen into his rival's hands. Over the past several months, A Bian has spearheaded his "Plebiscite to Join the UN." Yu Hsi-kuen has aggressively promoted his "Resolution for a Normal Nation." Spun positively, one could say they were endeavoring to establish a theme for the presidential election. Spun negatively, one could say the Green Princes were fighting over access to the bully pulpit. The result of the "Plebiscite to Join the UN," the "Rectification of Taiwan's Name," and the "Rectification of the Name of the Nation" was that Frank Hsieh virtually vanished from the political stage. It was as if he was the only one in the entire party concerned about his election prospects. No wonder he felt compelled to call in sick in protest.

By the same token, Yu Hsi-kuen also feels put upon. His "Resolution for a Normal Nation" merely parroted A Bian's own proposal. Why was A Bian's "Plebiscite to Join the UN" equated with "loving Taiwan?" Why did Yu's "Resolution for a Normal Nation" lead to Yu being vilified as an "Enemy of the People" who "undermined party solidarity?" Yu Hsi-kuen has never done anything but follow loyally in A Bian's footsteps. How did he wind up as a fall guy for Chen and Hsieh to gang up on and wipe the floor with? "Put upon" doesn't begin to describe how Yu must feel.

The contradiction between Hsieh and Yu reflects the DPP's dilemma. What are the "Rectification of Taiwan's Name" and the "Plebiscite to Join the UN?" Are they sacred ends? Or are they merely means to an end? Are they real issues, or phony issues? The answer is now clear: Even if the establishment of a "normal nation" is a sacred end, it cannot be allowed to negatively impact Frank Hsieh's election victory. In other words, even if President Chen's "Plebiscite to Join the UN" arouses concerns in Washington and Beijing, the bottom line is its impact on domestic politics. If crossing the line were to negatively affect the election, that would be another matter. Yu Hsi-kuen's problem is that somewhere along the way his obvious charade turned real. That was a no-no. Ye Chu-lan and Chiu Yi-jen's comments at the National Congress were uncommonly pragmatic, something seldom encountered in the DPP's political rhetoric.

The curtain has fallen on the DPP National Congress. The "Rectification of the Name of the Nation" and the "Rectification of Taiwan's Name" no longer matter. Yu Hsi-kuen quietly ended the DPP's "Chairman Yu Era" with a vanishing act. Frank Hsieh drew attention to himself by "worrying himself sick." But will a DPP no longer under Yu's chairmanship really care whether Frank Hsieh is in charge of his own election campaign? If President Chen decides to resume the party chairmanship, if "Chairman Chen" insists on pushing his "Plebiscite to Join the UN," if he insists that Hsieh's election campaign must defy reality, no matter what the cost, then not only will Chen be in charge of the government, he will also be in charge of Hsieh's election campaign. When all is said and done, Hsieh will not be in charge of his own campaign, Chen will, and Hsieh will have "worried himself sick" for nothing.

Courtesy China Times

中國時報  2007.10.03








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