Wed, Nov 01, 2000 - Page 1 News List

Opposition recall drive gaining strength

NEW CRISIS Opposition parties continue to gather signatures on a petition to recall Chen, while the DPP says it has a trick up its sleeve to prevent that from happening

By Joyce Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Members of the DPP, top right, face off with KMT legislators in the Legislative Yuan yesterday. KMT lawmaker Kwan Yuk-noan is holding a placard in the bottom left of the picture, which reads "Recall A-Bian."

PHOTO: GEORGE TSORNG, TAIPEI TIMES

A drive by opposition parties to recall President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday continued to gain support from legislators while lawmakers voted to cancel a scheduled interpellation session with Premier Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄).

"We have collected 122 petition signatures [as of yesterday's legislative session] for a vote to recall the president, however, our goal is 150 signatures so as to show our strength," said KMT Legislator Ting Shou-chung (丁守中), who initiated the petition on Monday and was backed by legislators of two other opposition parties -- the People First Party (PFP) and the New Party yesterday.

A vote of recall against the president, however, requires support from two thirds of the legislators (147) for passage before a popular referendum will be held. The earliest the motion will be filed, assuming that figure has been reached, is the next legislative session, which is on Friday.

"The timing in filing the motion is very important. We must take public opinion into account," Ting said, adding that the motion would definitely be filed.

In response to opposition parties' bid to recall the president, the ruling DPP legislative caucus yesterday attempted to rally the support of seven legislators in the opposition camp for its counter strategy.

"The DPP can count on the support of a third of the legislature as it has 68 seats itself and there are another seven lawmakers who are expected to lend their support and refuse to endorse the petition," DPP Legislator Lee Wen-chung (李文忠) said yesterday morning, though he added he was unwilling to reveal the seven legislators the DPP would be targeting.

At yesterday's legislative session, a motion which proposed to shelve the central government's 2001 budget and cancel tomorrow's additional legislative session was passed by a vote of 111 to 63.

Moreover, the legislature yesterday also agreed to rearrange the premier's question-and-answer session scheduled for Friday and instead change the agenda to review legislative bills. Therefore, the Law Governing Legislators' Exercise of Power (立法院職權行使法) and amendments to the Presidential and Vice Presidential Election and Recall Law (總統、副總統選舉罷免法) will be put on Friday's agenda for revision and review so as to facilitate the recall vote against the president.

Sitting in the legislature yesterday morning, the premier seemed embarrassed during the National Affairs Forum (國是論壇) where opposition legislators condemned the Cabinet and the president's decision to scrap the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant.

"The president should step down himself for being capricious, deceitful and insincere," KMT Legislator Huang Ming-hui (黃敏惠) said at the forum, while Hung Hsing-rong (洪性榮), also of the KMT, criticized Chen for "ruining, within five months, the foundations that former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) strived for 10 years to build."

The ruling DPP, in response, appealed for political stability to be maintained.

Chang, after stepping out of the Legislative Yuan yesterday afternoon, expressed his sorrow for triggering such a political impasse and hoped the dispute would be settled through the Grand Justice's interpretation of the constitution.

"The Cabinet's announcement to halt the plant did not mean to embarrass KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰). However, I feel sorry there was any misunderstanding on Lien's part," Chang said.

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