Former Democratic Progressive Party Chairman Lin I-hsiung (林義雄) yesterday warned colleagues who have served as national and party leaders not to run for the DPP chairman position, and vowed to take steps if any of them decides to ignore his advice.
Lin, widely respected by DPP members for his integrity, also urged the party to engage in solemn soul-searching, a movement that should start with President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) and other ranking government officials as well as other party leaders.
In a three-page letter to DPP colleagues, Lin contended that the current president and vice president as well as former premiers and party chairmen are not fit to steer the ruling party, which suffered a crushing defeat in the recent elections for local governors.
"If any of these people intend to run for chairman, I will try to talk them out of it," Lin told a morning news conference. "If they decide to press ahead, I will publish my reasons for opposing their campaign."
Lin related he had planned to quit the DPP after it swept into power in May 2000 but decided to stay on chiefly because the administration has not had smooth sailing.
He also suggested that those eying the 2006 Taipei and Kaohsiung mayoralties or the 2008 presidency should abstain from the chairmanship race, saying they will not be able to devote their energies to the party unsparingly.
"If the party continues to fail the public's expectations, it must brace for more revolts at the polls," Lin warned, "We may then have no choice but to accept a fate of total collapse."
Noting that the DPP was in disarray and Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) stepped down as chairman to take responsibility for the major setback, he offered his ideas on who the next party chairman could be. The party's 500,000 members will vote for a new chairman on January 15.
Lin also said that the term of the new party chairman should last until May 20, 2008 when the next president would be inaugurated, and suggested that the leader should not resign from the post for any other reason than being recalled or in seriously poor health.
It is the responsibility of the chairman to focus on party matters as well as campaign preparations for the 2008 presidential election, he said.
"Because of this, the person at the head of the party must not be candidates for Taipei or Kaohsiung mayor in 2006, and they should also not run for president or vice president in 2008," he said.
Lin's remarks were apparently aimed at Yu Shyi-kun (游錫堃), secretary-general to the Presidential Office and a former premier, who offered to quit his post Thursday to run for the DPP chairmanship.
Yu said later in the day he respected Lin's opinions but would go ahead and join the campaign.
Lin, who refused to take any government posts after the transfer of power, said that the party must go past the election defeat and seriously reflect on its policies and strategies so that it can make a fresh start and seize the next chance for success.
Moreover, this evaluation of the party must be conducted from the top down, starting with the president, the vice president, past premiers and party chairmen and then to local party leaders, Lin said, adding that they should reflect deeply upon their performance, their words and deeds, and put down their conclusions and views in writing.
A team of fair-minded people will then assess the reports and give their comments to the DPP's Central Standing Committee, which will then invite those who submitted the reports and those who assessed them to explain their respective views before making an overall finding, Lin said.
"If there are major flaws in the party machine, then all ranking party members should apologize to grassroots supporters and the public," he said.