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Mixed reactions to former president's return to opposition party

Mixed reactions to former president's return to opposition party

Taipei, Aug. 14 (CNA) Former President Chen Shui-bian was re-admitted to Taiwan's main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Wednesday, a move that met with mixed reactions, with one critic calling it a "a nightmare" for the party's prospects in the next presidential election. Chen, 62, is serving an 18.5-year prison sentence for corruption he was involved in during his eight-year presidency. By a majority vote, a five-person review panel of the DPP approved Chen's application to have his party membership restored. The party's central committee had earlier agreed to re-admit him. The party had hoped for a unanimous decision, but the review panel had to settle the matter by a majority vote in the end, said Kuan Bi-ling, convener of the panel and a DPP lawmaker. She would not disclose how many of the panelists were against re-admitting the former president or their reasons. Faced with multiple corruption charges, Chen withdrew his membership in August 2008, less than three months after the end of his second presidential term. The decision to re-admit him was welcomed by his family and supporters, who believe Chen should have been allowed back in soon after he applied in May. "It's long overdue," said Kao Jyh-peng, a party whip of the DPP's legislative caucus. "We're pleased that he's finally been given the right and justice that he deserves." Chen Chih-chung, the president's son, thanked the DPP and said the decision contrasts with "the unfair treatment" that his father received during his court trials. On the other hand, Chen's return is seen by critics as damaging to the party and a boon to the ruling Kuomintang. It represents "an extremely shameful record for a party that prides itself on its idealism and sense of mission," said Lin Cho-shui, a former DPP lawmaker and one of Chen's most outspoken critics within the party. Allowing Chen back into the party is tantamount to throwing the beleaguered President Ma Ying-jeou a lifeline, said Lin. Any future DPP presidential candidate would be grateful if Chen would have shown a little bit more self-discipline and taken the bigger picture into account, he added. "Chen's insistence on returning to the party is a nightmare for anyone who wants to represent the DPP in the 2016 election," he said. (By Justin Su and Jay Chen)


Updated : 2021-04-11 05:09 GMT+08:00