Hsieh leaves chairmanship of DPP

The China Post staff

Frank Hsieh yesterday presided over the Democratic Progressive Party’s Central Standing Committee meeting for the last time before President Chen Shui-bian takes over as the ruling party’s chairman. Hsieh, also the incumbent mayor of Kaohsiung, said that his two-year chairmanship has laid the foundation for the DPP to remain the ruling party for years to come. He also lauded the DPP’s central and regional leaders for making the party the biggest political group in the Legislature in last December’s elections, helping to stabilize the Chen administration. He later reportedly met with Chen to discuss a new personnel line-up for the party. No details of their talks were available.

The chairman is leaving the DPP leadership seat to focus his efforts on his reelection campaign for the mayoral seat, and to allow Chen to take a firm grip on both the party and the administration. In response to questions about the challenges his reelection bid faces, Hsieh said the collaboration between the Kuomintang and People First Party was “full of conflicts.” He said he did not know whether PFP Chairman James Soong was pulling the strings behind the nomination process of the “Pan Blue Troops.” “Obviously, James Soong benefits the most from the cooperation deal,” Hsieh argued. He said the PFP did not really have much interest in the Kaohsiung mayoral post, but by nominating its Vice Chairman Chang Chau-hsiung, the party now has a bargaining chip. The PFP may now do the KMT, or some other independents, a favor by dropping its own candidate, Hsieh said. The KMT and PFP have worked out a deal to jointly support one candidate each in the Taipei and Kaohsiung mayoral elections.

While the Blues have settled on incumbent Mayor Ma Ying-jeou for the Taipei race, they have yet to pick a candidate for the southern city. There are three contenders from the KMT, one from the PFP and one independent, former Interior Minister Chang Po-ya, who is actively seeking to represent the Blues. KMT candidate Huang Chun-ying argued that Hsieh’s talks showed that the incumbent mayor actually felt threatened by the consolidation of the Blues.