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Pressure on for pro-independence DPP chairman candidates to unite

2012/04/16 18:05:06

Taipei, April 16 (CNA) Calls are mounting for the three pro-independence candidates running for chairman of Taiwan's main opposition party to unite around one of them to give pro-independence forces their best chance of emerging victorious.

Five candidates have registered to run in the Democratic Progressive Party's leadership election scheduled for May 27.

Of the five, Su Huan-chih, Wu Rong-i and Chai Trong-rong should try to agree on having only one of them run and represent the pro-Taiwan independence faction, said Yao Chia-wen, convener of the Taiwan Nation Alliance, which is dedicated to "integrating" pro- independence political forces in Taiwan.

If Yao's suggestion becomes a reality, the faction's candidate will stand against former Premier Su Tseng-chang and former DPP Chairman Hsu Hsin-liang.

Yao said all pro-independence groups have decided to ask Wu Shu-min, president of the Taiwan Society, to persuade Su Huan-chih, Wu and Chai to unite around a single candidate in the race.

Su Huan-chih, a former magistrate of Tainan County, said it might be too late to unite the pro-independence camp, but he also acknowledged that without party unity, the DPP will not stand a chance to regain power in 2016.

Former Deputy Premier Wu Rong-i contended that such a maneuver might create a bad impression among party members, and he wanted to wait until after the five candidates held televised debates before considering the idea.

Chai said he would wait and see what happens next before deciding whether or not to join this "faction-uniting" campaign.

The party chairman debates were also a topic of conversation Monday, with the party's central committee soon to set rules on their formats and agendas.

Su Huan-chih said three topics needed to be included to ensure that party members have a clear understanding of who they're choosing to lead them into future election battles.

"Party reform, foreign and cross-strait affairs, and strategies for the 2014 local elections and the 2016 presidential election" should be the themes of the debates, he said.

On how many debates should be held, Wu proposed one in each of Taiwan's five special municipalities (Taipei, New Taipei, Taichung, Tainan and Kaohsiung), Su called for at least three debates, and Chai said "more" debates would be better than "fewer."

Commenting on why so many people are contending for the party helm, Su said people who have their eyes on the presidency are worried that the DPP will not remain neutral in the party's presidential primary.

"They think they must have control over the party machine" so they will not be discriminated against in the initial election process, he said.

Calling himself the only "non-factional" and "younger-generation" candidate of the five, Su said he would definitely ensure a fair primary for the 2016 presidential election if elected party chairman.

Meanwhile, Frank Hsieh, a former premier and the party's presidential candidate in 2008, said some people were spreading rumors that he might work with Hsu to create conditions favorable for former chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen to make another try for the presidency four years down the road after losing the 2012 race in January.

Hsu has openly said his purpose for running for the post was to endorse a second attempt by Tsai -- who could serve as the party's honorary chairwoman -- to compete for the presidency because she is the best choice for Taiwan.

(By Lin Shen-shyu, Tseng Ying-yu and S.C. Chang)