The DPP's Twin Crises: Ideological and Moral
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
April 30, 2013
Summary: The DPP does not think about how to serve the nation and the people. It does not think about how to reform the party constitution to enhance its competitiveness. It does not think about how to improve its performance in the legislature. Instead its leaders rack their brains thinking up ways to do in their rivals, how to use underworld forces to expand their own power base. The party's ideological and moral values have declined. Now all that's left is for the tail to wag the dog.
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Rumors that "Triad members are joining the DPP" have created a uproar. Younger generation party members have issued frequent warnings. Tsai Ing-wen has sternly called for party disciplinary action. Su Tseng-chang has belatedly announced that those applying for party membership will be subject to "substantive examinations" and not merely "written reviews." He hopes the "triad taint" tempest will quickly blow over.
In 2008, the DPP lost power. Chen Shui-bian and his family were indicted for corruption. The party's image suffered a major blow. For years the party was unable to recruit new members. Between January and April of this year however, nearly 31,000 new people applied for party membership. This amounts to 13% of the existing membership. Such a large fluctuation extremely unusual. Rumor has it the real rush to join the party took place in May. Many are triad members. Many others are shady individuals involved in the "ba da hang ye" (Eight Big Businesses). These include nightclubs, massage parlors, saunas, dance halls, and bars). One Taiwanese businessman in Taichung personally introduced more than 3,000 people to the party. DPP legislative caucus chief Ker Chien-ming personally introduced 2,000. As we can see, this wave of party applications was hardly spontaneous.
Leave aside the problem of shady characters and machine voters for the moment. Three political factors account for the current wave of membership applications. One. The party chairmanship election is scheduled for May of next year. Candidates are deploying their troops in advance. Two. Newer party officials are running for office in the five cities elections and local county and municipal council elections. They are engaged in major mobilization at the grassroots level. Three. In preparation for the 2016 presidential election party primaries, candidates are making preparations for cut-throat competition. Consider the practical implementation. Many in the DPP think Ker Chien-ming's troops are helping Su Tseng-chang squeeze out Tsai YIng-wen. As a result, the Tsai Ing-wen camp is particularly indignant about this development.
Put simply, Green Camp faction leaders are eager to increase the number of their supporters. The main motivation is the demands of internecine struggle. Under the circumstances, Su Tseng-chang was forced to change direction. He even muttered, "The KMT must not be allowed to corrupt the DPP." He tried to blame the Blue Camp for the DPP's own problems. This came across as less than honorable. As party chairman, he must preside impartially over the party. If all he thinks about is personal power, how can he lead the party down the correct path?
It has been over twenty years since Taiwan democratized. The early patriarchs who founded the DPP have died or retired. The DPP has become a worldly and cynical political party. During its early years, the party opposed authoritarianism and championed reform. But it marched down the blind alley of Taiwan independence. It occupied the Presidential Office for eight years, butting its head against the wall. The DPP has constantly changed direction. Can it attract a different class of people? Will different sectors of society consider joining the party? If the answer to these questions is yes, the DPP may attract wider support. The party may be able to revise its constitution and direction. It may become a more broad-minded political party. It all depends on the Green Camp leaders. Are they merely engaging in self-aggrandizement? Are they artificially introducing large numbers of people of questionable backgrounds? If the answer to these questions is yes, they will merely alienate decent people. The public will not approve.
The DPP has long been wracked by factional rivalry. But at least in the past the competition was over poltical paths and moral values. Today's scenario is reminiscent of a cattle auction. It is both cheap and crude. In a few short months the party has gained tens of thousands of new members, all at the beck and call of specific individuals. If the sole purpose is to enable certain individuals to consolidate their power, fine. But the phenomenon affects the entire Democratic Progressive Party. It endangers the prospects of the party's future presidential candidates. Is the prospect not chilling? Assume for a moment the rumors are true. Large numbers of people have applied for party membership. These are not the usual machine voters who vote as they are told. These are shady underworld and "ba da hang ye" characters. Is the DPP determined to invite this trouble into their own home? Is it determined to welcome black gold into the party's body politic?
Recently several Green Camp academics issued a proclamation. They said the public no longer supports the DPP's Taiwan independence ideology, therefore it must seek breakthroughs. Taiwan independence no longer has a market. But the Democratic Progressive Party's plight goes beyond that. Politically Taiwan independence is box office poison. Its proponents lack expert knowledge on public issues. They are incapable of taking advantage of the Ma administration's low poll numbers. They are incapable of overcoming peoples' reservations about supporting the DPP. Worst of all, this cynical political party is now taking in underworld party members -- even as it postures as a holier-than-thou reform party. As everyone knows, the outside of the DPP bears no resemblance whatsoever to its inside. One wonders where it will all end.
This "tail wagging the dog" phenomenon is a vivid example. The DPP does not think about how to serve the nation and the people. It does not think about how to reform the party constitution to enhance its competitiveness. It does not think about how to improve its performance in the legislature. Instead its leaders rack their brains thinking up ways to do in their rivals, how to use underworld forces to expand their own power base. The party's ideological and moral values have declined. Now all that's left is for the tail to wag the dog.
2013.04.30 02:02 am