Taiwan's main opposition Democratic Progressive Party will begin an extensive review of its membership in a bid to weed out members who were only recruited to influence voting results within the party, a spokesman said yesterday.
"Beginning the end of this year, we will start checking the personal data of all of our members through a three-phase process for authenticity," said Cheng Yun-peng, director of organisational affairs for the DPP.
Cheng said the first phase of the screening would be collection of membership fees, the second part will involve updating members' personal data and the third aspect will entail conducting family visits and verifying information. The undertaking is expected to last until September next year.
The issue of so-called "proxy members", referring to those paid or individually recruited by certain DPP members to increase their influence, has been one of the most serious problems plaguing the DPP in the past decade or so.
Under the DPP's nomination system, candidates are allowed to run for the chairmanship and other senior party posts after being chosen through primary elections. Members who have been registered with the party for two years are eligible to vote in the primaries.
The system has resulted in nominal or dummy party members, mobilised or even paid by DPP members who want to boost their chances of attaining leadership roles within the party.
In March, reports of a large number of gang members applying to join the party ahead of next year's party elections led to public outrage and seriously damaged the party's image.
Party elections are considered to have a broader impact on Taiwan's leadership, as party leaders will carry substantial power in the nomination process of municipal elections in December next year and the presidential election in January 2016.