Besieged Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid, facing the worst crisis of his rocky rule, vowed yesterday to serve out his term despite a parliamentary censure that could trigger his eventual impeachment. \n"There is a question about whether I am going to resign. I will not resign until my term (ends in 2004) ...." Wahid told Muslim worshippers at a mosque in Jakarta. \nCalls for Wahid to quit or stand aside pending investigations mounted yesterday after parliament censured him over two multi-million-dollar graft scandals. \nNearly 2,000 student protesters demanding the frail Muslim cleric quit were camped out at a major Jakarta intersection late yesterday, causing traffic chaos. There were no clashes with police. \nAnd in a sign the Cabinet would not block further investigations, Justice Minister Yusril Ihza Mahendra said prosecutors should go ahead with parliament's order to probe Wahid over the scandals, worth a total of US$6.1 million. \nPolice have previously cleared Wahid of wrongdoing. \n"From a legal basis, because there has been a decision from parliament to continue the probe into the president, then it should begin," the Antara news agency quoted Mahendra as saying. \nThe head of the top legislative body, the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR), wants it to be convened immediately to consider sacking Wahid, local media reported. \nMPR speaker Amien Rais, a Wahid ally turned foe, said the normally slow process of calling a special session should be bypassed to avoid instability after the censure. \n"The bleeding must be stopped, otherwise it will get worse," the Observer newspaper quoted him as saying. \nRais' party was one of several that helped engineer Wahid's surprise rise to power 15 months ago but has since deserted him. \nParliament speaker Akbar Tandjung, another ex-ally, urged Wahid to step aside while authorities probe the scandals. He also heads the former ruling Golkar party, Indonesia's second largest. \nWahid has consistently refused to resign, saying he has the support of Vice President Megawati Sukarnoputri. Under the constitution, the daughter of founding President Sukarno would replace Wahid if he goes. \nFifteen months ago, largely through her own political ineptitude, she had to watch as the half-blind Wahid and an unlikely alliance of parties engineered his surprise win. \nAnalysts said Thursday's censure was a devastating blow to Wahid's legitimacy, although his political death could be slow and painful for the world's fourth most populous country. \nThey also warned the political tensions were scaring off investors and undermining a nascent economic recovery. \n"Gus Dur is finished, it's just a matter of process now," University of Indonesia politics lecturer Arbi Sanit said, using Wahid's nickname. "He's lost his political support." \nDewi Fortuna Anwar, a senior aide to Wahid's predecessor B.J. Habibie, said he must put the national interest first. \nThe censure clears the way for possible impeachment, but the formal process would take more than four months and requires at least one more formal parliamentary reprimand. \nThe complicated procedures, a lack of any credible alternative and fears a political coup could trigger a repeat of bloodshed that marked Suharto's ouster in 1998 mean Wahid is likely to survive for now, despite the censure. \nBut the setback means few now believe he can serve out his full term to 2004. Some analysts believe he will not survive beyond the next regular MPR session in August.
SCHEDULE: The delegation is due to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen this morning and witness the signing of an MOU on bilateral health cooperation in the afternoon US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar yesterday arrived in Taipei aboard a US government plane at the head of a delegation that is the highest-level visit by a US official since Washington switched diplomatic recognition to China in 1979. Azar’s flight landed at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) at 4:48pm, nearly one hour earlier than scheduled, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. The apron where it landed is reserved for military aircraft, the Songshan Air Force Base Command said. The members of Azar’s delegation included HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec, HHS Chief of Staff Brian
CHINESE FIGHTERS: Beijing marked the US Cabinet member’s visit by briefly sending two warplanes across the median line of the Taiwan Strait yesterday morning President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday met with US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar in the highest-level official meeting between the two nations since 1979. “It is a true honor to be here to convey a message of strong support and friendship from [US] President [Donald] Trump to Taiwan,” Azar said during the open portion of his courtesy call to the Presidential Office, which was streamed live online before Tsai and Azar held a closed-door meeting. “Taiwan’s response to COVID-19 has been among the most successful in the world, and that is a tribute to the open, transparent,
‘CROSS-STRAIT CONSIDERATIONS’: Groups said that the Ministry of Education’s policies excluded Chinese and students should not be blocked over political issues The Taiwan International Student Movement yesterday said it would protest today outside the Ministry of Education in Taipei against a policy that excludes some Chinese students from returning to Taiwan amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Since June 17, the ministry has allowed foreign students from 19 “low risk” and “medium-low risk” countries and regions to enter Taiwan. On July 22, it announced that it was relaxing restrictions to include students from all countries and regions who are graduating this semester and on Wednesday it further expanded entry to students enrolled in degree programs. A letter sent by the ministry on Wednesday to universities did
PARTNERSHIP AND LEARNING: A Princeton University health policy researcher said that the nation would be a ‘treasure trove’ of information for the US health chief US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar on Friday said he wants to learn about Taiwan’s “incredibly effective” response to COVID-19, even though the nation did things that the US has fumbled, such as having a unified strategy and citizens willing to wear masks. Azar leads a US delegation arriving today for a three-day visit to Taiwan. They are to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and health system leaders, and Azar is to give a speech to public health graduates. “The message of this trip is about Taiwan,” Azar said in an interview, deflecting a question about China.