Thursday, May 2, 2013

Expose the Motives of Anonymous Benefactors, or DPP is Doomed

Expose the Motives of Anonymous Benefactors, or DPP is Doomed
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
May 2, 2013

Summary: The criminal underworld has joined the DPP. This news has grabbed the headlines for the last two weeks. The DPP Central Standing Committee has finally proposed reforms. These responses symbolize the DPP's rejection of members with ties to organized crime. But they do little to address party members' disillusionment. In fact, they reveal a lack of resolve. Basically they are dodging the issue.

Full Text below:

The criminal underworld has joined the DPP. This news has grabbed the headlines for the last two weeks. The DPP Central Standing Committee has finally proposed reforms. It has lengthened the minimum membership period from one year to two years. Only then can a new member vote in party elections or be a party candidate. Most important are the "provisions for the exclusion of criminal elements." The committee has also formed an investigative team. The team will conduct a thorough investigation into rumors regarding abnormal, large scale party membership drives. These responses symbolize the DPP's rejection of members with ties to organized crime. But they do little to address party members' disillusionment. In fact, they reveal a lack of resolve. Basically Su is dodging the issue.

The current dispute was provoked by DPP legislative caucus chief Ker Chien-ming, who initiated the large-scale party membership drive. The media later revealed that many of the new party members had ties to the criminal underworld. The DPP has held drives to bring young people and political appointees into the party. But drives to bring triad members into the party are unheard of. The public was shocked. Party members were outraged. Party Chairman Su Tseng-chang's first response was utterly feeble. As a result, former Chairman Tsai Ing-wen proposed an ad hoc committee to conduct a full investigation. Only then did Su realize he had to confront the issue head on.

To make matters worse, Su Tseng-chang had the  temerity to blame the Kuomintang. He said, "The KMT had better not try to corrupt the DPP with black gold!" But what do DPP links to organized crime have to do with the KMT? What is Su implying? That Ker Chien-ming is a KMT mole? Su Tseng-chang's response backfired badly. It merely drew more fire and touched off more speculation. After all, Ker Chien-ming's party membership drive was seen as an effort on behalf of Su. Ever since Su Tseng-chang assumed the Party Chairmanship, his relationship with the other "party princes" has been tense. Rumors are that Su's relations with Tsai as, well as his relations with Hsieh, are tense. Su Tseng-chang was slow on the uptake. His response led to accusations of selfishness from within his own party.

Ker Chien-ming recruited many new party members with dubious backgrounds. Media reports say the Frank Hsieh faction also includes party members who are triad members. Both Ker Chien-ming and Frank Hsieh faction members sternly deny these claims. Are the rumors true? If they are, then the leaders of the Democratic Progressive Party have sunk to new lows in their struggle for power. Are the rumors false? If they are, then Su Tseng-chang and the other DPP heavyweights must acknowledge one thing. The struggle for power has degenerated to the level where rivals resort to framing each other. In this case, what right do DPP leaders have to talk about returning to power?

Let us be fair. Even gang members, as long as they have not been deprived of their civil rights, have the constitutional right to participate in politics. Of couse, if a political party does not want them as members, or does not want them to participate in its political activities, that is its right. One can talk about imposing tall barriers to party membership. But that is easier said than done. Unless one intends to ask prosecutors to assist. Anyone wanting to join the party would have to have a clean record. No wonder when large numbers of people join the party, they usually apply at local party offices. All are reluctant to show themselves. Background checks are impossible or difficult. More importantly, the DPP's standards for denying party membership include corruption, violations of the Money Laundering Control Act, the Hooligan Crackdown Act, the Drug Control Act, and the Guns, Ammunition and Weaponry Control Ordinance. Anyone in violation of these may not join the DPP. The above standards constitute a threshold. But acts such as the Hooligan Crackdown Act were long ago struck down by High Court Justices as unconstitutional. Therefore these "provisions for the exclusion of criminal elements." are a major disappointment.

Su Tseng-chang made these "provisions for the exclusion of criminal elements." He also made provisions for the exclusion of Communists. That is even more unreal than his "provisions for the exclusion of criminal elements." Rumors have emerged about Taiwan businessmen on the Mainland persuading 3000 people to join the party. Was Su Tseng-chang responding to this? If so, the DPP's attempt to conduct a thorough investigation into Communist ties will be even more difficult than its investigation into triad ties. And little wonder. Party members may not accept political contributions from Taiwan businessmen on the Mainland. Party members may not accept political contributions from friends or relatives with businesses on the Mainland. And what about party officials? If their spouses travel to the Mainland to study, will their party membership be revoked?

Elements from the criminal underworld joining the party has created an uproar. But this is merely an annual drama enacted by the DPP party leadership, as part of their power shuffle. Party members are using dummy voters in their internecine power struggle. Anonymous benefactors have gained control over negotiations among the party leadership. They have expanded their control from northern Taiwan to central Taiwan. Su Tseng-chang even endorsed and applauded this. Is that not absurd?

Also, from north to south, rumors have emerged from local party headquarters. Apparently these anonymous benefactors have "price lists." Each of them is willing to pay certain prices. These anonymous benefactors support Su, support Tsai, support Hsieh, or any other ambitious party prince. The motivations of these anonymous benefactors must be exposed. Otherwise it will be impossible to eliminate the malignant power struggle within the party. It will be impossible to rehabilitate the reputation of the Democratic Progressive Party

Su Tseng-chang is a founding member of the Democratic Progressive Party. He is a former Secretary-General of the party. He twice served as chairman of the party. Others may not understand the shennanigans involving dummy voters and anonymous benefactors. They may be oblivious. But Su is the leader of the largest opposition party. He must not think only of his personal power. He must realize that power is as changeable as the weather. These anonymous benefactors may not belong to any particular faction. They may not have any personal preferences. But every one of them watches the wind direction. Today they may favor Hsieh. Tomorrow they may favor Su, Today they may favor Su. Tomorrow they may favor Tsai. They will follow whichever party prince gains the upper hand. That is the safest approach. If any party prince, including Su Tseng-chang, indulges his selfish desires, and accepts even the tinyiest of favors, it will damage the Democratic Progressive Party's image and his own, The price will not be worth it.

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