Tsai urges DPP unity to help Chen Chi-mai win Kaohsiung by-election

(Photo courtesy of CNA)

TAIPEI (CNA) — President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), who doubles as chair of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), on Sunday called on all members to unite behind the party’s Kaohsiung mayoral candidate Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) and help the former vice premier win the mayoral by-election next month.

In a speech made at the party’s biennial national congress held in Taipei, the DPP chairwoman said one of the most important missions ahead for the party is to win the Aug. 15 by-election, which is being held to replace recalled Kaohsiung mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) of the opposition Kuomintang (KMT).

The president said that Chen losing to Han in the November 2018 Kaohsiung mayoral election was a setback in his political career, but despite the sarcasm and mockery, Chen performed well as vice premier and bounced back, Tsai said.

Less than a month away from the by-election, Tsai urged party members to do their utmost to help Chen win the mayoral seat “to bring back the glory of Kaohsiung.”

DPP Kaohsiung mayoral candidate Chen Chi-mai (front).(Photo courtesy of CNA)

Tsai made the call during the 19th DPP National Congress held in Taipei, at which the main party heavyweights all appeared on the same stage.

The 55-year-old Chen was nominated by the DPP as its Kaohsiung mayoral by-election candidate last month after a recall vote held on June 6 that saw a majority of voters support Han’s removal.

Han entered the presidential race less than a year after being elected mayor, prompting local civic groups to initiate a recall campaign arguing that Han’s presidential bid was a betrayal of his promises in the mayoral campaign.

The Central Election Commission (CEC) certified the results of the June 6 recall vote results and scheduled a by-election on Aug. 15 for a new mayor to serve out the remainder of Han’s term, which ends in December 2022.

Chen will face Kaohsiung City councilors Li Mei-jhen (李眉蓁) and Wu Yi-jheng (吳益政), who are representing the KMT and smaller opposition Taiwan People’s Party (TPP), respectively, in the by-election.

Chen is widely considered a prohibitive favorite in the by-election, with Kaohsiung being a DPP-stronghold run by the party for two decades before Han’s shock victory in November 2018.

President Tsai Ing-wen (center left) shakes hand with DPP candidate Chen Chi-mai. (Photo courtesy of CNA)

Meanwhile, in her address during the national congress, Tsai also called on the DPP to make its own constitutional amendment proposals in which lowering the voting age and abolishing the Control Yuan and Examination Yuan should be top priorities.

Tsai said lowering the voting age from 20 to 18 and abolishing the two branches of government are priorities as both the majority and opposition parties are in agreement.

The Control Yuan is an independent government watchdog agency that monitors the performance of public servants, while the Examination Yuan supervises tests for public servants.

The two agencies were designed to balance the power held by the administrative, legislative, and judicial bodies, but calls for their abolition have increased in recent years and the DPP has long supported doing so.

However, any amendment of the Republic of China Constitution must be sponsored by at least 25 percent of legislators to be valid, approved by a minimum of 75 percent of lawmakers present at a meeting attended by no less than 75 percent of the 113 lawmakers, and then supported in a national referendum.

In addition, a constitutional amendment committee, an ad hoc body under the Legislative Yuan, has to be established to make related proposals.

President Tai Ing-wen (front) cheers with Vice President Lai Ching-te behind her. (Photo courtesy of CNA)

The committee requires the participation of at least 33 percent of the 113 lawmakers, with its makeup determined by the proportion of seats each party holds in the legislature.

Legislative Yuan Speaker You Si-kun (游錫堃) of the DPP has said that a constitutional amendment committee will be established during the next legislative plenary session set to start in September.

The main agenda during Sunday’s DPP National Congress was the election of the party’s Central Executive Committee and Central Standing Committee.

The DPP’s charter stipulates that its national congress must elect a 30-member executive committee every two years from nationwide party representatives, of which there are currently about 600.

(Photo courtesy of CNA)

Party members further choose 10 candidates from the executive committee to serve on the party’s standing committee.

The 10 standing committee members elected are: Taipei City councilors Hsu Shu-hua (許淑華) and Liang Wen-chieh (梁文傑); incumbent Central Standing Committee members Chen Mao-sung (陳茂松) and Huang Cheng-kuo (黃承國); and lawmakers Lee Kun-tse (李昆澤), Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃), Su Chen-ching (蘇震清), Wang Ting-yu (王定宇), Wu Ping-jui (吳秉叡) and Ho Chih-wei (何志偉).

Another highlight of Sunday’s elections was the attendance of former DPP President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), who is on medical parole after being convicted of corruption.

Chen arrived at the venue and voted around 3 p.m. before leaving the venue without making any public comment.

Taichung Prison later said it will examine Chen’s behavior during the DPP national congress before deciding whether he violated the terms of his parole.

Former President Chen Shui-bian casts his vote. (Photo courtesy of CNA)