The central standing committee of the governing Democratic Progressive Party yesterday established a new ad hoc "party affairs development commission" to drive a review of the party's defeat in local elections last December 3 and to re-examine its organization and nomination systems.
Moreover, Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), in her capacity as interim DPP chairwoman, announced, on behalf of the newly established "clean governance commission," that the anti-corruption body had received 15 reports of possible violations of party discipline since its formation last December 14.
According to the statement, the committee had accepted four cases for investigation for possible violation of party discipline in terms of improper behavior and had asked for the informant in another case to provide more evidence.
Lu said that the committee will submit the results of its investigations to the Central Standing Committee within two months.
However, Lu stated that, based on the principle of confidentiality, the committee will not release the names of party officials under investigation in the four cases or in the other cases that were not accepted for review.
"The clean government commission operates independently and its members have not even told me," Lu noted.
DPP Secretary-General Lee Yi-yang (李逸洋) announced after the meeting that the Central Standing Committee had officially formed an 11-person "party affairs development commission" in line with a resolution approved by the same committee December 7.
"In the wake of the December 3 election, the entire party and all of society has expectations for reform in the DPP," said Lee.
The central standing committee appointed seven persons to the party reform commission, including DPP Legislator and CSC member Chou Ching-yu (周清玉), CSC member Tsai Hsien-hao, DPP Secretary-General Lee Yi-yang, DPP Legislative Caucus Convener Jao Yung-ching (趙永清), Policy Coordination Committee Executive Director and Legislator Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘), Kaohsiung City Party Branch chairman Chao Wen-nan and township party branch association representative Lin Chun-liang.
Four other slots were left open but for the incoming party chairperson, to be elected Sunday, to fill after taking office February 5.
Lee told The Taiwan News that the party development reform commission would examine issues such as the relationship between the party and the government, the possible establishment of special party branches for youth and women, the possible reform of township party branches into "district" party branches in preparation for the introduction of small district, single-seat legislative elections in late 2007 and the vexing problem of proxy members.
The DPP secretary-general added that there was no need for a review of the fundamental principles or program of the party.
"Our values of Taiwan consciousness, clean governance and democratic reform are correct and do not need adjustment," said Lee.
"The main issue of controversy lies in the question of our stance on economic and trade relations with China, as raised by the New Tide faction recently," said Lee.
The DPP secretary-general also defended the content of the New Year's Day address given by President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) as being "in accordance with the DPP's main principles."
Lee added that Chen's shift from the notion of "active opening, effective management" to "proactive management, effective opening" to guide Taiwan-China economic relations "did not fall from the skies" but had been hinted at and discussed for several months in the wake of China's enactment of its "anti-secession law" last March.
Regarding Sunday's by-election for the DPP chair, Lee forecast that voter turnout would be between 30 percent to 40 percent of the approximately 235,000 DPP members who are eligible to vote.
Lee stated that the severity of problems such as mass faction or proxy voting should be less than in earlier party chair elections and said that about half of the voters will be "autonomous" and the other half linked with factions.
Curbing proxy membership
Lee said that proposed measures such as requiring party members to pay their own fees would help to further curb proxy membership.
The DPP secretary-general also rebutted media charges that some DPP lawmakers were engaging in collective payment of party membership fees for proxy voters in the upcoming election "as absolutely false."
Lee noted that although collective payment of fees does not violate party by-laws, the deadline for payment of membership fees in order to be eligible to vote Sunday was last October 17 and that any moves to pay fees for other persons "is totally unrelated to the election."
"Such accusations are wildly inaccurate and harm the reputation of innocent party elected officials and are unfair to the three candidates," Lee stated.
The DPP secretary-general added that the Central Standing Committee will review a motion next week to require that party members directly pay their own fees.