Taiwan DPP chairman takes stand against organized crime

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Opposition Democratic Progressive Party Chairman Su Tseng-chang on Saturday said that as long as he served as leader, he would never allowed members of organized crime groups to join the party.
His statement followed accusations earlier in the week that sudden mass applications to join the DPP were part of a plot by gangsters to infiltrate the party. Media reports named senior opposition lawmaker Ker Chien-ming as the politician responsible for recruiting the new members, but he denied any links with organized crime and with irregular membership application practices.
Su emphasized he would never allow gangsters to infiltrate the DPP.
‘As long as I’m here one day, I will not allow organized crime to join the DPP, to infect the DPP,’ he told reporters in Kaohsiung Saturday. ‘The DPP may be poor, but it has a strong will.’
The party leadership refused to accept more than 400 party membership applications in Keelung this week out of fear irregularities were involved and some of the applicants included individuals with an unsavory past, reports said.
Some observers said the sudden influx of new members was linked to preparations for the election for chairman and for the party leadership scheduled for May next year. New DPP members have to wait one year before they become eligible to cast ballots for party officials.
The election itself was likely to be an important stage on the road to the nomination for a DPP presidential contender in the 2016 battle to defeat the nominee the ruling Kuomintang will chose to succeed President Ma Ying-jeou.
Since both Su and former DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen were likely to contest the nomination, some commentators saw the mass applications as part of a competition between the two to recruit the highest number of new party members, even though both denied such intentions.
The DPP reportedly counts 234,000 members, with 31,000 applications registered from January to April, the Chinese-language China Times reported Saturday. The paper predicted the number of applications could total 50,000 by next month.
Tsai called on the party leadership to form a special taskforce to investigate the allegations. Even though local sections had the authority to review membership applications, Tsai said they would not be able to face pressure or threats from organized crime alone. Allowing people of a questionable background to join would change the nature of the party, she warned.
In addition to worries about members with a background in organized crime, there was also concern that the KMT might be trying to influence the opposition party. Local DPP officials said the ruling camp might attempt to infiltrate the DPP by pushing candidates with views sympathetic to the government and to China, undermining the opposition’s strong stance in support of Taiwanese sovereignty.
Tsai said party members doing business in China might be vulnerable to political pressure from the communist authorities.