Fri, Jun 02, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Ma takes aim at Chen power shift

LOADED GUN While criticizing Chen's announcement that he would delegate some of his responsibilities, the KMT chairman hinted a recall motion could come soon

By Mo Yan-chih and Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said yesterday that President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) announcement on Wednesday that he would delegate some of his responsibilities amounted to trampling on the Constitution and was tantamount to acknowledging that he had abused his powers in the past.

"It's absurd to cede presidential powers. It is a dereliction of duty if the president delegates the powers granted to him by the Constitution," Ma said.

"As for powers that the president was not given constitutionally, there is nothing for him to give up or to delegate. If there are any, then they were invented by the president himself," he said.

In the wake of a string of scandals involving government officials and Chen's son-in-law, Chen on Wednesday night announced that he would relinquish his party responsibilities and focus solely on doing his job as the president, loosening his grip on power and ceding certain powers to the Cabinet and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

Ma criticized Chen for what he described as a private trading of powers within the DPP and for failing to explain the scandals that have rocked the first family. The KMT chairman added that he did not feel that the president had undergone "deep introspection."

"[Chen] said he would restrain the first family from now on. Does writing off past scandals amount to deep introspection?" Ma asked.

"There's one thing the president should do, and that's to clarify the scandals involving his family members," he said.

Otherwise, Ma warned, the situation could only get worse.

Although he questioned Chen's ability to execute his presidential duties with dignity and urged him to "make the right choice," Ma reiterated his opposition to a recall motion.

"It's time to load the gun, but not yet time to pull the trigger, because you only get one shot at recalling a president," he said.

Although certain KMT legislators have put forth a proposal to recall Chen, Ma insisted that the party would not take any action until the time was right. He said this would be when there was public consensus for a recall and the motion had the support of at least 30 DPP legislators.

Ma said recent media surveys showed that only about 27 percent of the public supported a recall motion, with more than 58 percent of respondents opposing the idea.

"Many people have called on me to respond to public opinion. Well, this is the public's opinion. It doesn't mean that I am against impeachment. We should wait until the scandals worsen and it is proved that President Chen and the first lady are involved," he said.

Faced with Ma's continued opposition to a recall motion, People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) yesterday called on his pan-blue allies to address the issue with "political responsibility."

The PFP said it would continue pushing for a recall, and would hold a protest march along Ketagalan Boulevard on Saturday to demand that Chen resign.

"We ask President Chen to step down in order to facilitate the investigation of the scandals, rather than shifting the focus [away from these problems]," Soong said.

Soong called on the KMT to play its role as a "responsible opposition party" and to take action against a corrupt government.

Ma, however, declined to participate in the PFP's protest march.

Meanwhile, pan-blue legislators said that Chen's announcement wouldn't put a stop to their demands for him to step down.

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