Sun, Oct 15, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: It's all about getting Chen

On Friday, a second legislative motion to recall President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) failed to pass -- as expected.

The question is: What next?

Other than a genuine coup, only two strategies for forcing Chen from office have not been tried -- one is a nationwide strike and the other is a vote of no confidence against Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), which, if successful, would topple the Cabinet.

But Chen would not be the direct victim of either strategy. The victims of the former would be the economy and every worker, while the victims of the latter would be Su and the legislature -- pan-green and pan-blue lawmakers alike -- which would be dissolved prematurely if the president opted for fresh elections.

The sole purpose for adopting the two strategies and impinging upon so many innocent people is to make Chen look bad.

This is a president who has just over a year of his term left. This pan-blue-camp bloody-mindedness defies common sense and has forfeited all sense of proportion.

It was never likely that much popular support would fall behind a nationwide strike. And if the average person is unlikely to support a mass protest, then what can be meaningfully said about the mandate carried by the provocateurs?

The same applies to the threatened vote of no-confidence against the premier. While People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) still appears to be enthusiastic about cranking up the vote, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) so far has been unwilling to wholeheartedly support the push. Without firm votes from the KMT, the PFP chest-beating will be simply that.

Why is Soong still pushing for the vote when the chances of success are so low? The answer is the same to the question of why the legislature should attempt to recall a president when it never had the numbers: to show the pan-blue support base that certain figures remain committed to a line of politics that not only excoriates Chen, but also casts aspersions against opposition rivals.

The problem is that the longer the public endures this shadow boxing, the more likely it will respond through a backlash against opposition leaders. This can already be sensed in the waning support for former Democratic Progressive Party chairman Shih Ming-teh's (施明德) campaign, whose leadership has decided to "temporarily" reduce the size of its protests in central Taipei.

The campaign is clearly losing momentum and morale after dragging on for so long without the hoped-for result of a humiliated president packing his bags and fleeing the country -- and without even the prospect of a result.

It will not likely recover momentum and morale until prosecutors announce their decision over whether to indict suspects connected to the presidential special allowance. But it might just be that by this time opposition strategists will have dumped Shih and have started thinking about things more pressing, such as the Taipei and Kaohsiung elections at the end of this year and the next legislative elections that will leave half of the current pack of jokers without a job.

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