Sat, Aug 26, 2006 - Page 8 News List

The Election and Recall Law must be amended

By Li Ching-lieh 李慶烈

It needs to be made clear at the outset that I believe that President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) -- who has lost the support of a majority of the public -- should resign now and should have done so long ago.

By remaining president and continuing to represent Taiwan when receiving foreign guests, he repeatedly shames the nation. If Taiwan's political system protects his presidency, it will humiliate Taiwan.

If the Taiwanese people have to continue to put up with Chen due to the confrontation between the pan-green and pan-blue camps, it is because they are helpless, but that doesn't make it less of a humiliation.

The reason the ongoing drive to force Chen out of office keeps failing is -- in addition to the stand off between the pan-blue and pan-green camps -- that the Election and Recall Law (選罷法) requires the approval of two-thirds of all legislators for a presidential recall to be passed.

The pan-blue camp is backing itself into a corner and seems to have reached its wits' end as the green camp has countered every single one of its attempts. It is now forced to fall back on its speciality -- public demonstrations -- to unseat Chen. This is a tragedy.

The problem is that Chen is not going to be the only unpopular president. If this time one million people are mobilized to unseat Chen, then may be another million people will take to the streets to oust Annette Lu (呂秀蓮). After that maybe they will call on Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to step down.

Taiwanese have had enough of mass protests. Politicians always crave benefits, power and prestige. Neither the governing party nor opposition may understand the importance to the public of a good political system, but at least they could cut down on the number of street protests.

When former DPP chairman Shih Ming-teh (施明德) and his followers take to the streets, I urge them to appeal for the revision of the Election and Recall Law lowering the threshold for approval from two-thirds to one half of the legislature and return power to the people by letting them decide in a referendum if they want to keep Chen.

There is no conflict of interest between middle and working-class people, for both groups need to live and work in peace.

There is, however, a conflicts of interest between politician and the public, and power should be returned to the public. If the people taking to the streets could help establish a reasonable system, they would earn the gratitude of the Taiwanese public as a whole.

I really don't want to think about what might happen when Lu succeeds Chen as president and pursues her agenda for Taiwan independence.

Unable to recall her due to the high legislative threshold, supporters and opponents of Lu will take to the streets. I'm sure there will be a million people from each side.

Nor do I want to think about what might happen if Ma, if elected president in 2008, proposes a cross-strait peace framework humiliating to Taiwan, and the pan-green camp fails to pass a recall motion due to the high threshold.

By then there will probably be 4 million people marching in the streets.

I'm calling for a national referendum so that the public can make the final call. If in the end the Taiwanese people decide to let Chen remain in his post, so be it.

This is, after all, a democracy -- ?power rests with the people.

Li Ching-lieh is an associate professor in the electrical engineering department at Tamkang University.

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