Acting party leader: reform goes on

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 March, 2012, 12:00am


The acting chairwoman of Taiwan's opposition Democratic Progressive Party, Chen Chu vowed yesterday to continue to reform the party in order to regain public trust and pave the way for a return to power.

'During my term as the acting chair, the party will not stop its reforms,' the mayor of the southern city of Kaohsiung said following a changeover ceremony in Taipei.

The 61-year-old former political prisoner, who has visited the mainland despite criticism from some hardline pro-independence groups, was chosen to head the pro-independence party last week. She took over from Dr Tsai Ing-wen, who officially stepped down yesterday to take responsibility for her defeat in the island's presidential election in January. Tsai, who challenged President Ma Ying-jeou of the mainland-friendly Kuomintang, won 46 per cent of the vote to Ma's 52 per cent.

Chen, pictured, said she would follow Tsai's footsteps to reform the party so that it could rise again. '[Tsai] made great efforts to improve and elevate the party,' she said, referring to Tsai's bid to make the party more moderate and win support from those who doubt the DPP's ability to maintain cross-strait stability.

'I hope we can develop an internal consensus to discuss the party problem, and for this we plan to set up a party reform task force.'

Asked if she would run for the party's top post after her term as acting chairwoman ends on May 27, Chen said it was not something she was concerned about. 'I will play the role of a bucket hoop to bind the party together,' she said, adding that while most people thought it was important for the party to return to power, she believed it was even more important for it to regain public trust and build up support.

The DPP - which ruled Taiwan from 2000 to 2008 - lost public support following a series of corruption scandals involving former leader Chen Shui-bian, who was subsequently jailed for graft.

Tsai said Chen Chu was capable of holding the party's reins and laying a firm foundation for the next stage of its development.

She said she would continue to devote herself to society and charity work after she stepped down.

Tsai has suggested that the party must gain a better understanding of the mainland through greater interaction. She has also said the DPP needs to find a new approach to dealing with the mainland.

Even though she is a veteran supporter of Taiwanese independence, Chen Chu is known for her relatively more practical stance in dealing with the mainland. She visited the mainland as Kaohsiung mayor to promote the World Games in 2009. Her meeting with Beijing Mayor Guo Jinlong and Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng was criticised by several pro-independence groups, which accused her of trying to appease the mainland.