TAIPEI–Two members of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday 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 debate 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.