DPP growing up due to Sunflowers

By Paul Lin 林保華
There is resentment among supporters of the pan-green camp with the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for failing to live up to expectations.
Yet while the DPP has not achieved its full potential, it is maturing. This is why, under the influence of the Sunflower movement, DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) announced that he was withdrawing from the DPP chair elections.
Sometimes, taking a step back makes it easier to resolve problems. This is true not just for Su, but also for the DPP and even for Taiwan as a whole. Of course, this all depends on the party’s future performance.
The DPP has long been afflicted with factional battles and inner-party political calculating, with the result that even when good things are achieved, they are often shrouded in conspiracy theories. The Sunflower movement was also internally divided, and the occupation of the Executive Yuan, withdrawal from the Legislative Yuan and subsequent surrounding of Taipei’s Zhongzheng First Police Precinct station should serve as a good lesson for the DPP, as it showed that the key is to remain humble and disregard personal interest.
Hopefully, the next generation of DPP leaders have been less affected by the party’s factionalism.
As a supporter of the pan-green camp, I do not question Su’s sincerity in dropping out of the DPP chair elections, but I do not belong to any faction within the DPP.
I often share in the enthusiasm of grassroots and overseas supporters and I also have my own ideas as to just how sincere certain senior DPP members are. I always look at the bigger picture and in the past, I openly showed my support for former DPP chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), which may have offended some in the pan-green camp.
Recently, I have had some contact with Su at public events and have sensed his sincerity in addition to paying close attention to his recent statements and actions. I therefore do not think his dropping out of the race was an act of political calculation.
After former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) also announced he would be withdrawing from the race for DPP chair, Tsai said that she was willing to “shoulder responsibility.” Tsai is between the DPP’s big leaders and its coming generation of leaders and enjoys a lot of support. It is good for the DPP to have her run. If this did not happen, the DPP chair elections would be surrounded by a lot of confusion.
However, the most important question is what sort of responsibility she was referring to.
When former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) was in power, he often talked about how he kept the desires of the public close to his heart at all times.
What did people want back then? When 500,000 people took to the streets of Taipei on March 30, they expressed what they wanted, and they have also expressed what they want in opinion polls.
The Sunflower movement began because of resistance to a lack of transparency regarding the cross-strait service trade agreement. The agreement not only pertains to Taiwan’s sovereignty, it will also affect democracy and the prospects of Taiwan’s younger generations.
On April 9, during the last night of the student occupation of the Legislative Yuan, the students gathered around to discuss their worries and express their innermost thoughts.
Given the lively atmosphere, I did not hear what was being said all that clearly. However, I did notice a group of students who came down from the second floor of the legislature and had been working hard during the entire occupation. They were visibly more emotional and radical.
On the second floor of the legislature, they hung horizontal banners that read: “Liberate the enslaved workers!” These banners were later interpreted as an expression of young people seeking liberation from the NT$22,000 starting salaries that are now the norm.
This just shows the great impact these low salaries have had on the younger generation. If the trade pact is rushed through the legislature, this situation will only become worse.
Tsai lost in the last presidential election. In her mild manner, she equated the Republic of China with Taiwan in order to attract more median voters. However, she was not critical enough of how President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has been selling out Taiwan and of China’s meddling in Taiwan’s affairs.
This caused people to lose confidence in Tsai’s ability to assert Taiwan’s sovereignty.
This should not be a matter of always opposing anything related to China, but rather a principle that must be followed in all dealings with China and a central element that separates the DPP from Ma and his “comprador” group.
This principle has to be followed in the future to increase the confidence of the Taiwanese and it is also the only way party politics can be merged with civic movements.
Paul Lin is a political commentator.
Translated by Drew Cameron
Taipei Times  2014.4.20


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