Taiwan DPP members suggest drastic reforms
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2013-05-04 05:35 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Younger members of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party suggested the abolition of voting within the party in order to counter alleged infiltration by gangsters, reports said Saturday.

Over the past week, media reports alleged that individuals with organized crime connections tried to join the DPP, and that the effort was somehow linked to a power struggle and to the next party leadership elections.

As a result, DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang proposed new rules, including a more thorough background review of people applying for party membership and a two-year moratorium on voting in party elections by new members.

Taipei City Councilor Liang Wen-chieh and DPP Central Executive Committee member Hung Chih-kun proposed a stop to voting by party members, reports said Saturday. The change would completely invalidate the need for senior party leaders to try and recruit outsiders to vote for them in internal elections, they said.

Su said the fact that all kind of party members could voice a variety of suggestions about the issue showed how democratic the party was, but in the end everybody had to reach a consensus and decide together.

Former DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen said the suggestion by Liang and Hung would affect the party’s basic organization, operation and power structure, so there needed to be a far-reaching debate about its implications first. She expressed confidence that discussions would end in finding the best-possible solution for the future of the party.

DPP lawmaker Lee Chun-yi said he had heard reports that party officials in Chiayi City, the area he represents, were paying elderly men in parks to join the party, though he had seen no evidence of this practice. The legislator said he was a proponent of turning the DPP into a party without too rigid a discipline and that he supported the abolition of internal elections as suggested by Liang and Hung.

The allegations of infiltration by gangsters reportedly began with reports that hundreds of questionable party member applications turned up in Keelung, where the brother of an organized crime figure was reportedly preparing a bid for city councilor in the 2014 year-end elections.

Later media reports accused one of the party’s most senior lawmakers, legislative whip Ker Chien-ming, of having met a gangster leader in Macau in order to recruit members to support a re-election bid by Su. The reports also alleged that former Premier Frank Hsieh was doing the same with another criminal organization in preparation for a bid of his own to depose Su.

Hsieh, Ker and Su all vehemently denied the allegations of cooperation with gangsters. The party leadership called on local offices to be more stringent in checking on new member applications.

There were also fears that supporters of the ruling Kuomintang and of closer relations with China might try to join the DPP to try and change its emphasis on defending Taiwan’s sovereignty.

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