Two days after the Democratic Progressive Party suffered a humiliating setback in the elections, one of President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) aides said yesterday that he Chen had been at home for two days in introspection.
"Please allow (the president) some more time to have the thinking," said deputy Presidential Secretary General Ma Yung-cheng (馬永成) at the Legislative Yuan yesterday morning. Ma said the president spend the weekend at his residence thinking about what actions to take in order to maintain political stability while at the same time furthering the reforms his government has pledged and boosting the economy. Chen will share his views with citizens soon as he finishes his introspection.
Except for meeting Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) and DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) yesterday afternoon, Chen canceled his scheduled meetings for yesterday.
The debate over whether the president should apologize to the DPP and supporters for the outcome of the elections continued yesterday inside the party and local media, although Chen originally said he did not need to shoulder the blame.
Some DPP members and supporters say that Chen was deeply involved in the election campaigns and harshly criticized the opponents which may have upset many undecided voters in the 23 contested districts causing them to vote for pan-blue candidates.
Done his best
But Foreign Minister Mark Chen (陳唐山) disagreed and said Chen predicted that it would be difficult for the DPP to carry out the "three-in-one" elections. The combined magistrate and mayoral elections with two grassroots polls for township leaders and councilors covered parts of the country that have been dominated by the Kuomintang for half a century.
Even though it was a big setback for DPP, Mark Chen argued that the president had did his best to help the DPP candidates during the campaigning.
Saying the elections' results were the price the DPP paid for insisting on reforming the political system, including reducing the number of elections held, the minister suggested that "it is unfair when the DPP loses the elections, that everyone forgets Chen's determination to carry out the reforms that have been promised."
Winning re-election as Tainan City mayor Saturday, DPP member Hsu Tien-tsai (許添財) said there seems to be a gap between public opinion and the vision the president has for the nation according to the results of elections.
Interviewed by the United Daily News, Hsu said members of the DPP administration should face the setback and review who is responsible.
Over the past five years, no one dared to make the necessary suggestions to the president which has created the opportunity for some political speculators to acquire political power and misguide citizens, Hsu said.
Focus on reforms
In the meantime, DPP legislative leaders bowed and apologized to voters in the Legislative Yuan yesterday for disappointing supporters in the elections.
The lawmakers claimed that the Presidential Office, Cabinet and DPP legislative caucus should shoulder the same responsibility for the loss - one of the biggest setbacks for the party since its establishment.
But it was not the time for different factions inside the DPP to attack each other but to focus on reforms and re-start in order to win back supporters, the lawmakers said.
"Constant reforms have been the fundamental goal of DPP since its establishment. The DPP will face the electoral defeat, introspecting the failure from heart while adhering to reforms and being clean-handed," said DPP whip Jao Yung-ching (趙永清).
"The Presidential Office, Executive Yuan and DPP legislative caucus will jointly shoulder the failure and review the setback in a humble manner to turn the crisis into an opportunity," Jao said.
Possible new chairman
The loss also forced DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) to resign which in turn as led some DPP legislators and media being speculating who will replace him.
"I think that it is definitely suitable now to let new-generation partisans to take over the post," DPP Legislator Julian Kuo (郭正亮) contended.
Kuo suggested the DDP adopt a liberal way any partisans interested in running to enter their names. Just stop the way that the president chooses a successor to be the new chairman, Kuo urged.
Some other lawmakers and the media say former DPP chairman Lin Yi-hsiung (林義雄) and Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄) are to be the most likely ones to replace Su.
Neither has shown interest in the post as of yesterday.
"Allow me to express a personal feeling, which is, stop calling on me whenever the party is in a trouble," Chang told reporters.
Chang is the chairman of semi-official Straits Exchange Foundation now.