Chen wants to be ‘drafted’ back to central office

By Joe Hung, The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — President Chen has found himself in a situation that is reminiscent of Julius Caesar. His Democratic Progressive Party had a resolution unanimously passed at a regular central standing committee meeting Wednesday, urging him to double as chairman. Julius Caesar turned down the request of the Senate to become an emperor thrice. Of course, he wanted to ascend to the throne. Chen has emulated Caesar. He wants to be the kingmaker, because he has to step down as president on May 20. He needs to place DPP presidential candidate Frank Hsieh under his thumb. Hsieh, who wants a free hand, gives Chen mere tongue-in-cheek support.

He fumes. The president has to crash any resistance from among his ruling party. He wants to be drafted in every sense of that word. The reason is simple. The drafting immunizes President Chen against a probable loss in the forthcoming legislative elections. Voters will go to the polls to elect a new Legislative Yuan on Jan. 12 and a new president on March 22 next year. A fiasco at the polls shortly after the new year begins makes it all but inevitable for Chen to take responsibility as DPP chairman. He may have to quit that extra job. If he were “really compelled” to accept that job against his will, President Chen could easily weather that crisis. That’s why he complained about the heavy burden of another “100 catties” he is required to carry if he was asked to succeed Yu Shyi-kun, who resigned as DPP chairman after he was indicted for corruption. Chen then suggested he would ask Koo Kuan-min, a godfather of the Taiwan independence movement, to persuade Yu to stay on. There still is a chance that Yu can be retained, President Chen said. That chance comes today as the ruling party’s central executive council meets. But there is little doubt that when the special executive council meeting takes place, all its members will unanimously approve the central standing committee’s Wednesday resolution, completing the process of the drafting President Chen wants. The president will reluctantly accept the draft. Unlike Caesar, President Chen doesn’t have to face a DPP Cassius or Brutus.