With the ruling Democratic Progressive Party to elect a new leader tomorrow, former DPP chairman Lin I-hsiung (林義雄) revealed yesterday that Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) has promised him he will not vote for former Presidential Office Secretary-General Yu Shyi-kun (游錫堃).
Yu, who has the backing of the party's Justice Alliance and New Tide factions, is allegedly favored by President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) to steer the DPP after Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) resigned to take the blame for the party's defeat in the recent polls for local governors.
Lin told reporters during a visit to the DPP headquarters that he met with Hsieh days ago and they shared the view that Yu is unsuitable to lead the party because he has served in many important government posts following the transfer of power from the Kuomintang to the DPP.
"Powerful as Yu has been in the last five years, he cannot shake the blame for the DPP administration's lackluster performance" that contributed to the party's embarrassing election defeat last month, Lin said.
Many analysts have attributed the DPP debacle chiefly to a barrage of corruption scandals involving government officials, notably former deputy secretary-general Chen Che-nan (陳哲男).
To prevent Yu from seeking the chairmanship, Lin has said that colleagues eyeing the DPP nomination for the 2008 presidential race should stay away from the chairmanship contest to avoid charges of unfair play.
"It's regretful that Yu has failed to engage in soul-searching and has instead chosen to seek the party's top leadership post," an arrangement that may help him win the party's presidential nomination, Lin noted.
Lin, who commands extensive respect from DPP members, urged Yu to clarify rumors that he is running at the president's order so that the president can continue to control the party machine.
"Unless Yu can defuse such rumors, it is highly inappropriate for him to run for the chairmanship," said Lin, who has thrown his weight behind candidate Weng Ching-chu.
Lin said that Hsieh assured him on the phone he will not support Yu though the premier remains undecided who to vote for - Weng or DPP Legislator Trong Chai (蔡同榮).
Lin said Chai, 71, is too old for the job and should guide the party from behind the scenes by acting as the party's leading Central Standing Committee member.
"I consider it better to allow the younger generation to lead the DPP," he said.
More than 230,000 DPP members are eligible to cast their vote in the chairmanship election.
Chai, who has the support of the Welfare State Alliance faction, said he has great respect for Lin but argued that his age should not be a factor in the election. The faction consists of 20,000 members.
"While I'm old, I'm no less energetic than the two other competitors," he said.
It is unclear which candidate has the best chance of victory, with support from the four main factions deemed crucial in the election outcome.
The Green Friendship Alliance that boasts more than 70,000 members - is also close to Chai. The Justice Alliance and the New Tide have about 60,000 and 40,000 members, respectively.
Both Chai and Weng have pledged to dissolve factions, if elected. They note that factions are to blame for strife in the election primaries and unfair distributions of the party's political and personnel sources. Yu has shied away from the debate and instead build his campaign around restoring the party's morale.
Though known for his outspoken speeches, Chen has adopted a low profile following the December election. He has shunned public comments on the chairmanship election with aides saying the president prefers to stay above factional competitions.