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Jun 23, 2009

DPP petition is a stupefyingly awful idea

The DPP's decision to start a petition calling for the release of Chen Shui-bian is, I think, reasonable but politically unwise. I'd imagine the impetus for this project came from those Chen allies of the K-incident generation remaining on the party's central committee.

At the end of the day Chen is a massive liability to the DPP's image, and drags them into the past instead of giving them the chance to look into the future.. Whatever the merits of the petition (and it has merits, as Chen's detention and prosecution have been riddled with irregularities), the DPP would be better off throwing him under a bus. That's my cold-blooded advice, at least.


Robert R. said...

Agreed. And if they actually did want to do it, it should've been done 3-6 months ago... It's like they just noticed.

David said...

I felt disappointed by this display of DPP stupidity. I think the most important thing to do would be to have independent legal experts observing the case and compiling a report on the process. I am quite surprised that neither A-bian himself or the DPP undertook this initiative.

The most damning indictment of flaws in the judicial process have been the comments of Jerome Cohen. He is an esteemed legal scholar and also close to Ma Ying-jeou so he cannot be dismissed as partisan.

阿牛 said...

David, right on about the legal experts + Jerome Cohen plan. That would at least have been productive!

chinaphil said...

I dunno, I wonder if you haven't been drinking the KMT Koolaid when I see a comment like "Chen is a massive liability".
Chen is easily the most popular DPP politician ever. He won over 50% of the national vote last time he stood for election. It appears that he did abuse his slush fund - along with everyone else in Taiwanese politics - but Taiwanese voters aren't exactly famous for their insistence on squeaky-clean politicians, are they? They've shown time and time again that they're willing to vote for charismatic, well-connected individuals with lots of shady areas on their CVs.
The direction you seem to be mapping out for the DPP, this goody-two-shoes, by-the-book approach, doesn't really fly in politics. Chen is the only bruiser the DPP's got with anything like the cojones to make a stand-up fight with a KMT bigwig. Stop dissing him, let him do his time and come out again (hope!) as a kingmaker.

阿牛 said...


I understand what you're driving at but I'd put it this way.

Chen's political brilliance and value to the DPP was three-fold: first and foremost, he was perceived as someone who could get things done. Second, he was a rhetorical genius with impeccable timing who left the KMT chasing their own tail and kicking themselves in the ass. Finally, he was perceived as clean. Like it or not, those first and third benefits are now no longer part of the package, and while the man still has the rhetorical flair in him, lately he hasn't been making particularly impressive use of it.

I'm not suggesting the DPP become a bunch of goody-two-shoes, but right now they are nothing but cry babies throwing temper tantrums and using language that strikes the less committed voters as completely anachronistic.

They have to to present a constructive alternative and when they're on the attack, they need to sound more like people with moral convictions than whiners.

Taking all of these thoughts a step further, if Ma is smart, he will seriously consider pardoning Chen soon after his likely conviction. Doing so will keep Chen front and center in the DPP's internal party politics, and he will remain a divisive force who can no longer garner much public support.

I think one tangential point that Lee Teng-hui and James Soong show us is that once you wane in Taiwan politics, a comeback is not easy; still, these guys can still hang on forever and can even become an albatross around a party's neck.