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DPP figures call for 'Sunflower Movement-like' debate (update)
Central News Agency
2014-04-13 09:29 PM
Taipei, April 13 (CNA) Two members of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) on Sunday called for an honest debate about "generational transition" and other issues just as student protesters recently raised awareness of a controversial trade pact with China. Legislator Chao Tien-lin and Hung Chih-kun, a member of the DPP's Central Executive Committee, launched scathing attacks of party elders vying to lead the party and called on party members and ordinary citizens to have an open debate about the issues. Student-led protesters occupied Taiwan's Legislature from March 18-April 10 to oppose a Taiwan-China trade-in-services pact, a campaign that put pressure on the government to explain the agreement in detail and defend it. The student-led campaign also embarrassed the DPP, the nation's largest opposition party with 40 members in the 113-seat Legislative Yuan, by showing it has lost the power to force the Kuomintang (KMT) government into a serious deate over important issues facing the country. Chao said that with the students having ended their occupation of the Legislature in glory, people are asking: Have the protesters, who also embarrassed the ruling elite of the KMT, been leading a campaign to boycott DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang, to help former DPP Chairman Frank Hsieh, to escort former Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen, or to create an environment for younger politicians to take the party's helm? People are asking these questions because the senior politicians, who have dominated the party for too long, are seen to be playing politics and putting factional interests ahead of party interests, Chao said. All three have stated their interest to vie for the party chairmanship to be decided in a party election on May 25, with the winner likely to represent the DPP in the 2016 presidential election. Su, Hsieh and Tsai are certainly entitled to complete for the party's top leadership post, Chao said. "But if they simply go through a platform presentation session which draws little interest and a party vote that gets a low turnout, people will simply not be moved," Chao said. He reminded the party elders and other DPP heavyweights that the students had stormed the Legislature in a bid to break through the country's political status quo, which has left many people disgruntled. Before DPP members go to the polls to elect their next leader, Chao said the party should hold a no-holds-barred debate on all issues affecting the people, particularly the younger generation.

"Otherwise, I myself will not cast a vote for anyone on the candidates' list," he said. Chao suggested that the party debate the faction problem as well as the nation's economic liberalization agenda. Hung echoed Chao's observation that the party's factional leaders have little trust in one another and therefore cannot coordinate their efforts, resulting in the party's minimal achievements and low standing in the eyes of the public. "Our party elders are short-sighted and narrow-minded, often mumbling about their visions, and are slow in reacting to changes in society. They have even discredited good recommendations made by people not to their liking, making judgments based on factional interest without any regard to right and wrong," Hung said. "Indeed we also need a Sunflower Movement-like debate in which even vulgar language was heard to make clear the party's position on all major issues facing the country," he said, referring to the nickname given the students protests. Hsieh was the first to respond to the calls for him, Su and Tsai to yield power to a younger generation leader, insisting that he has always been "on the reformers' side" when it comes to leading the party to a "real transition" and to reform national politics. "If vying for party chairmanship will affect my role as a reformer, or will simply lead to suspicion that I have ulterior motives, then I will give it a second thought," Hsieh said. Su refused to reply to the question of whether he supports a new generation taking over the party leadership, saying this is "a matter of values, not a matter of generations." Su said the DPP is an open political party in which all sorts of views are welcome, in a "let a hundred flowers bloom" fashion, but "don't forget, this is a matter of values." Tsai had responded to the appeals as of Sunday evening. Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu, seen by some as a possible choice to lead the DPP into its next phase, said any transition to a new generation of leaders will be brought about "only naturally and in due course." "For me, I don't hold any position on supporting or opposing a new generation of leaders taking control of the party apparatus," Chen said on Sunday. (By Sophia Yeh, Wang Shu-fen, Yang Sze-jui and S.C. Chang)

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