Thu, Jun 01, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Recall campaign is a `moral' issue, PFP says

CNA , TAIPEI, WITH STAFF WRITER

The People First Party (PFP) caucus said yesterday that it supports a campaign to recall the president for ethical and political reasons, not for judicial reasons.

The PFP caucus made a distinction between a political leader's moral and political responsibility and his legal responsibility, as President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) senior aides and close relatives are being investigated in a spate of corruption scandals.

PFP caucus secretary general Lee Hung-chun (李鴻鈞) said that since last year, members of the first family have been found to have been involved in 21 corruption cases.

"Even though no evidence in these cases implicates the president himself, he has lost public trust," he said. "The PFP has been advocating his recall because we think he should take moral and political responsibility."

Lu Hsueh-chang (呂學樟), the PFP caucus convener, said that even if the judicial authorities can prove the president's roles in some criminal offenses, no one can do anything about it, given the constitutional protection of the president.

Only by keeping up the pressure through a recall campaign can the public "restrain" the president from further allowing his top aides and family members to engage in irregularities and remind him of the seriousness of the situation, Lu said.

He called on Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to "tell the difference between the significance of the recall campaign" and "the possibility of a judicial investigation of the president."

Ma has been reticent about the campaign to recall the president, saying that Chen himself is so far not a suspect in any wrongdoing and so it's not an appropriate time to begin such a campaign.

Lee and Lu criticized the KMT for withholding the names of 39 KMT legislators who support KMT Legislator Ting Shou-chung's (丁守中) legislative motion to recall Chen. Although 111 legislators in all support Ting's motion, Ting only has 72 signatures in hand because the KMT has decided not to hand over 39 other signatures, citing a need to gauge public support before proceeding further with the motion.

"What's the purpose of not allowing party members to [join] the recall motion?" Lee asked.

He warned Ma not to misread public opinion and said that anger over the government's corruption will not dissipate with judicial probes.

Ting proposed his motion to recall Chen on the floor of the Legislative Yuan on Tuesday.

Ting listed 10 reasons for recalling the president, including Chen's decision to cease the operation of the National Unification Council, his alleged violation of the Constitution, the cheap sale of state-owned properties and "sitting idly by while watching corruption scandals erupt one after another."

Despite the withholding of some KMT signatures, the proposal has collected enough support from pan-blue camp lawmakers to meet the one-quarter requirement for review in the 221-seat legislature.

For the recall motion to succeed and Chen to be sacked, Ting's bill would need the approval of two-thirds of legislators and 50 percent of eligible voters in a national referendum.

also see stories:

KMT group urges Chen to resign

Legislator who quit DPP tells Chen to follow his lead

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