DPP and Ah-Bian: Lie Down with Dogs, Get Up with Fleas
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China)
August 15, 2013
Summary: Yesterday the DPP approved Chen Shui-bian's application to rejoin the party. This shows that the DPP has never given the Chen family's corruption a second thought. Even worse, it now intends to invite this embezzler back into its house. The DPP is essentially telling the world it is in cahoots with Ah-Bian. The last vestige of hope that voters might have held out for the DPP is now gone.
Full text below:
Yesterday the DPP approved Chen Shui-bian's application to rejoin the party. This shows that the DPP has never given the Chen family's corruption a second thought. Even worse, it now intends to invite this embezzler back into its house. The DPP is essentially telling the world it is in cahoots with Ah-Bian. The last vestige of hope that voters might have held out for the DPP is now gone.
Ah-Bian is rejoining the party. The DPP finds itself in a bind. It is clearly guilty of gross hypocrisy. First of all, this is not rehabilitation. Chen Shui-bian was found guilty on mutiple counts of corruption. Most people do not consider Ah-Bian a "victim." More importantly, Ah-Bian has never confessed his crimes or apologized for his misdeeds. Yet the DPP has given him a free pass. The Ah-Bian corruption scandal will only bring down the DPP.
The DPP has allowed Ah-Bian to rejoin the party. But the DPP leadership was clearly ashamed. It was at a loss to defend its actions. This was clear from the two rationalizations offered by DPP Central Party Review Panel Convener Kuan Bi-ling. Rationalization One. Chen Shui-bian is sick. He is a victim of severe depression. By magnanmously allowing him to rejoin the party, the DPP is deferring to both human rights concerns and tp medical necessity. Rationalization Two. Former President Chen's application to rejoin the party was approved by the Central Standing Committee. Chief Convener Ker Chen-ming presented the application to former President Chen to fill out. Therefore the party cannot permit any internal inconsistencies.
Such sophistry can hardly rationalize the party's actions, which are utterly incomprehensible. Political parties are not hospitals. Ah-Bian may well be suffering from severe depression. But what does that have to do with rejoining the DPP? Now consider the second justification. The Central Standing Committee has resolved that Ah-Bian may rejoin the party. Therefore, as the logic goes, the Review Panel must not oppose this resolution. This sounds like plain and simple evasion of responsibility. It is true that the DPP Central Standing Committee and Central Evaluation Committee ought to have the final say regarding Ah-Bian's application to rejoin the party. The DPP Central Standing Committee deliberately passed the buck to the Review Panel. Put bluntly, DPP Party Chairman Su Tseng-chang evaded responsibility. But this is a sin of historic proportions that could very well sink the DPP. Can Su really dodge such a bullet?
In late 2006, Wu Shu-cheng was being prosecuted for corruption in the State Affairs Fund case. Chen Shui-bian was still president. Yet the DPP convened an emergency session of the DPP Central Executive Committee. DPP leaders engaged in heated debate. The party still included dissenting voices outspoken enough to acknowledge the First Family's wrongdoing. They demanded that the party distinguish between right and wrong. Now however, the DPP's word is final. Chief Convener Ker Chien-ming conveys the party leadership's ruling to the party faithful. Who dares to utter a word of dissent?
Ironically Su Tseng-chang contradicted himself. In 2008 Tsai Ing-wen took over as DPP Party Chairman. Confronted with the Chen corruption case, she was helpless to respond. WikiLeaks revealed that Su Tseng-chang repeatedly criticized Tsai Ing-wen during a meeting with the AIT. He said that under Tsai Ing-wen's leadership, the DPP lacked courage and determination. He said it failed to unequivocally and promptly disown Ah-Bian. It failed to distance itself from him. This he said, was a colossal blunder.
Today, looking back at Chairman Su's magniloquence, one cannot help being overwhelmed by emotion. Tsai Ing-wen's bottom line was Chen Shui-bian's right to medical treatment. She was unable to block the Taiwan independence fundamentalists. She was unable to prevent the Chen faction from extending its reach into the DPP. But contrast, Su Tseng-chang has allowed the Chen faction to march right in. Su's conduct is not even in the same ballpark as "courage." Su totally ignored right and wrong. The public finds one question most baffling of all. Why, it asks, was it necessary to allow Ah-Bian to rejoin the party? Yesterday during the Review Panel meeting, some said the DPP should simply bite the bullet and get it over with. Refusing to allow Ah-Bian to rejoin the party might lead to short-term pain, i.e., attacks from party insiders. But the DPP would continue to uphold Chen Shui-bian's right to health care. By contrast, allowing Ah-Bian to rejoin the party would surely lead to long-term pain. The DPP would continue taking heat for the Chen corruption case. It would lose its firewall.
Long term pain vs. short term pain. Which is worse? Anyone with a modicum of common sense knows the answer to that. No wonder DPP elder Lin Cho-shui blasted Chen Shui-bian's reentry into the party. For a political party with a mission, this is shameful. Meanwhile, realpolitik has motivated the DPP to hurriedly readmit Ah-Bian. It is almost as if the DPP is rushing to the aid of President Ma Ying-jeou, who has been dogged by low approval numbers. It is almost as if the DPP is filling the role of relief pitcher.
Lin Cho-shui said that if Chen Shui-bian insists on rejoining the party, he will become a nightmare for the DPP's 2016 presidential candidate. Anyone with a modicum of political knowledge understands this. In other words, allowing Ah-Bian to rejoin the party now is both morally and practically ill-advised .
It is destructive. It lacks any redeeming virtue. So why is the party leadership doing it? The answer may have to do with next year's party chairmanship election. Perhaps they are fighting each other for the Taiwan independence fundamentalist vote. But that is akin to drinking poison to quench one's thirst. Readmiting Ah-Bian means accepting what he has done. Leaders of a political party so deficient in vision may win their party's leadership. But such a party will never be able to win the presidency. Their individual struggles will be for naught. Most regrettable of all, the DPP will eventually be dragged down as well.