Split within opposition ranks official

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 October, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 07 October, 1996, 12:00am

A split within Taiwan's largest opposition party has now been formalised following yesterday's official establishment of the Taiwan Independence Party.

The party is led by more-radical pro-Taiwan independence advocates dissatisfied with what they call the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) weak stance on pursuing the island's independence.

It was not expected to reap a large share of votes in upcoming elections, observers said.

But it was likely to water down the DPP's support base, making DPP candidates more vulnerable in hotly contested races where results could be close.

Government sources said the party might have trouble registering with authorities due to its pro-independence stance, reflected in its English name.

Trouble may be avoided if the party registered under its Chinese name only, which translates into English as the National Building Party.

Aside from a small group of DPP politicians, the Taiwan Independence Party is mostly comprised of academic figures.

Meeting in Taipei yesterday to select party officers, it elected Academia Sinica scholar Li Chen-yuan as its first chairman.

Academia Sinica is Taiwan's highest academic research institution.

National Taiwan University professor Lin Shan-tien , a veteran Taiwan independence activist and a big figure behind the party's founding, was elected vice-chairman.

Peng Ming-min, who ran for president in March under the DPP banner, declined to serve as the party's inaugural chairman, saying he needed more time to examine its objectives.

But Dr Peng's harsh criticism of the DPP and praise for the new splinter party has provoked a backlash from DPP leaders, who accuse him and the Taiwan Independence Party of diluting the opposition's strength.

Professor Lin said the party would not focus its efforts on winning elections under the island's political system, as it did not recognise the Republic of China as a legal entity.

The party 'has to stave off the myth of prioritising election victories, so election results won't be used to justify its means and back off from the party's fundamental cause', he said.