Former Minister of National Defense Chiang Chung-ling (蔣仲苓) yesterday strongly denied that he was in charge of planning the alleged "soft coup d'etat" after the March 20 presidential election. Chiang criticized President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) for defaming his lifetime of military service for the purpose of electioneering and said that he does not exclude the possibility of litigation.
"He [Chen] is schizophrenic. If he has any guts he can just name me directly. If he dares to name me, I will sue him," Chiang said when questioned by the media.
"He is the leader of the country and chief commander of the army, yet for the purpose of an election, Chen is delirious, making no sense of what he says and suffering from hallucinations. Not only has his statement humiliated me, it is an insult to the national defense force and all high-ranking officers," Chiang said.
"The way things stand, can the public still vote [for him]? I call upon the public to clear up the truth and get rid of him [Chen] through their votes." Chiang said.
At an election rally on the night of Nov. 13, Chen for the first time accused a few retired high-ranking military officials of attempting to lead a "soft coup d'etat" after the March 20 presidential election. Chen said that their method was to persuade some high ranking military officials to resign or fake an illness in order to create national instability, as a show of their dissatisfaction with Chen's re-election.
On Friday night, Chen continued to explain the details of the soft coup d'etat. He directly named retired general Hsu Li-nung (許歷農), the New Party's spiritual leader and former director of the General Political Warfare Department, and a former national defense minister of secretly persuading retired officials and the public gathered in front of the Presidential Office to object to the elected president. This amounted to a revolution, Chen said.
The president also said that, at the time, there was a Chinese government unification-supporting Web site calling for the military and police to attack the Democratic Progressive Party's headquarters, charge into the Presidential Office and kill the president.
Chen's statement aroused further controversy among some political groups. The media asked Chiang for his reaction. Chiang was enraged, saying, "If he has evidence, then get the prosecuting departments to charge me."
Chiang said, "after the election I did visit then National Defense Minister Tang Yao-ming (湯曜明) in hospital but I did not ask him to resign. On the contrary, I urged him not to resign, for the sake of national security and stability."
He also immediately asked that Tang and Admiral Lee Jye, former Chief of the General Staff, as well as the incumbent Minister of National Defense, clarify whether President Chen's allegation was truthful.
Hsu Li-nung is not in Taiwan now, but his wife has indicated to the media that Chen's statement is "killing her in her rage."
The chairman of the New Party, Yok Mu-ming (郁慕明), who made phone calls to Hsu yesterday morning, said that Chen's action is tearing the nation apart and creating a national rift.
"Former President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) advocated that until the formation of the nation of Taiwan, such action would constitute the crime of internal disruption. Why doesn't Chen charge former president Lee?" Yok asked.