Tue, Nov 16, 2004 - Page 1 News List

DPP clarifies Chen's `soft coup' remarks

WARNING REITERATED Party officials said the president was simply trying to inform voters of what had happened in the days immediately following the March election

By Huang Tai-lin  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH CNA

The aim behind President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) mention of a pan-blue attempt to launch a "soft coup d'etat" in the wake of the March presidential election was not meant to point fingers but simply to inform voters of the situa-tion, Presidential Office Secretary-General Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said yesterday.

"President Chen merely wanted to report to the voters about the situation at the time and called on the public to safeguard democracy and to end unrest with their votes," Su said.

He was referring to remarks made by Chen on Sunday night while campaigning for Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislative candidates in Taipei County.

Shortly after the election Chen the pan-blue camp had tried to persuade senior generals and officers to launch a "soft coup" against the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) have yet to concede defeat in March 20 poll.

Chen labeled the pan-blue move a "soft coup d'etat" because instead of cannons and tanks it tried to use pressure from senior officers.

The president said it was "very clear who, when and where people held high-level meetings with senior generals and high-ranking officers and retired generals to try to get them to stand up ? to pretend to be ill and check themselves into a hospital in order to pressure me to submit my resignation."

Chen said the coup bid had not succeeded because of long-term efforts to depoliticize the military and because "top generals did not let themselves be used."

Sunday was not the first time that Chen has used the term "coup." Back in April Chen described the opposition's persistent protests over his re-election as an "aborted coup."

Su said yesterday that it was true in the immediate post-election period that individuals had tried to persuade high-level military officials to quit their posts in a bid to create social instability and misgivings among the public.

Su said it was apparent that senior generals possess a more mature democratic capacity and disposition than Lien and Soong do -- given the pan-blue camp's actions in the wake of the election when opposition leaders called for huge protests in front of the Presidential Office and then published and distributed the Bulletgate pamphlets about the assassination attempt on Chen in an attempt to smear him.

DPP Legislator Lee Wen-chung (李文忠) said yesterday that four retired generals had tried to persuade three serving generals and eight lieutenant-generals to either resign or check themselves into hospitals.

At a news conference, Lee declined to name names except to say that then-minister of national defense Tang Yao-ming (湯曜明), Deputy Chief of the General Staff Admiral Fei Hung-po (費鴻波) and Minister of National Defense Lee Jye (李傑) -- were not among them.

Also See Stories:

Pan-blues deny attempted coup

Editorial: Military has passed the test

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