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September 19, 2017

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Chen mixes molotov cocktail for DPP behind bars

Those who missed out on Lady Gaga's concert in Taipei last month will be guaranteed "ringside seats" at the next best show in town, or even the best, less than four years from now, when current Chairman of the opposition the Democratic Progressive Party Su Tseng-chang fights tooth, claw and nail with his predecessor Tsai Ing-wen over the nomination of the party's presidential candidate.

DPP tradition dictates that the party chairman is the party's "ex-officio" nominee in the next presidential race. As party chairman, Su may as well have the nomination already in his pocket. But it's not going to be that easy, thanks to the handiwork of Chen Shui-bian, a scorned, incarcerated former president, whose fury not even hell could handle. Call him Sir Gaga if you will, for he is either truly sick, as he and his sympathizers often claim, or so bored that he sees fit to sow the seeds of a personal vendetta within the political party he has long been associated with.

Writing in a gossip column of a notorious gossip magazine earlier this week, Chen claimed Su, his premier when he himself was president, "repeatedly" requested the dismissal of then-Vice Premier Tsai Ing-wen. Under the Chen administration, Su served a brief stint as premier from Jan. 25, 2006 to May 21, 2007.

Su's Cabinet included Tsai as vice premier, with whom he allegedly locked horns. Throughout the term, Su "more than once" expressed that he would like Tsai to be dismissed, according to Chen.

Later, local press reported a rumor that the pair weren't getting along — "that didn't happen without a reason," Chen wrote with elaboration.

To be sure, no one knows exactly why Chen is doing this when Su has already been elected chairman and when Tsai has been made an also-ran in the 2012 presidential race. What Chen is doing now is nothing short of trying to drive a wedge between two party heavyweights within the DPP, risking both what is left of his "credibility" and the wrath of Su.

Understandably, a party spokesman refuted Chen's claim on behalf of Su almost immediately. "There is no such thing,"DPP spokesman Andrew Wang (王閔生) told a press conference at the party's Taipei headquarters.

Su and Tsai did not have problems working together, said Wang, who added that Su had authorized Tsai to handle "a great deal of official business."

To understand Chen's apparent acrimony against Su, one doesn't need to go very far back in history. Earlier this year, when Su was running for DPP chairman, he visited Chen in a thinly disguised attempt to seek the support of his former boss. Su's visit with Chen in April, seen by many as a perfunctory gesture, had been his first since 2009. He only did it and parroted the party line calling for the release of Chen after all the contenders for party chairmanship had. One cannot help but blame Su for being too calculating.

But, still, is this perceived slight justification enough for rocking the boat? Or are there more hidden reasons? After clamoring so long for Chen's release from prison (despite the fact that the former president has been proven guilty in court of stealing from the people, including DPP members), all DPP members and supporters should consider, in the light of what Chen is doing to the party, whether this man is a person they can trust.

Chen's remarks are not helping Tsai either, whose popularity has been increasing since her defeat in the 2012 presidential race. Let's see what Su is going to do to keep her at bay and a bird almost in the hand from eluding him.

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