Wed, Jun 21, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Chen defends his government, actions

TELEVISED ADDRESS The president gave a point-by-point rebuttal to the 10 allegations cited by the pan-blue legislators in filing their recall motion against him

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian addresses the nation in a televised speech from the Presidential Office last night.

PHOTO: AFP

Dismissing opposition claims that he trampled on the Constitution, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) last night invited his political foes to overhaul the Constitution if they thought it to be flawed.

"If the opposition parties think the Constitution is bad, let's amend the Constitution so the appointment of the premier would have to obtain the consent of the legislature, and so that the majority party in the legislature could form the government," he said in a televised address to the nation last night.

Chen said it was the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) who was violating the Constitution, citing the pan-blue camp's refusal to review his Control Yuan nominees.

Chen's address was a response to the "10 crimes" listed by the opposition as a justification for the motion it had filed in the legislature to recall him, including corruption, abuse of power, obstruction of justice, suppression of the media, incompetent governance and violating the Constitution.

Chen had seven days from the filing of the motion to decide whether to respond.

Yesterday was the last day he could make a formal rebuttal. Instead of issuing a statement directly to the legislature, however, Chen decided to address the nation and respond to the accusations point by point.

Earlier yesterday afternoon, Presidential Office Spokesman David Lee (李南陽) said Chen had decided not to make an official rebuttal to the legislature because the 10 accusations were "groundless" and "ridiculous."

"The president does not need to dance to the tune of others," he said. "Besides, it is the president's right not to respond with a written rebuttal."

Chen did, however, write to Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) yesterday to inform him of his decision.

Lee said that Chen had written the letter out of respect for the legislative speaker.

"The president is not required by law to respond to the legislature's notice," he said.

Speaking mostly in Hoklo (also known as Taiwanese) during his address, the president rejected criticism that his decision to make the speech was contemptuous of the legislature.

"It is a legitimate practice conforming to the Additional Articles of the Constitution," he said.

He also said he would not be responding to questions from reporters because his speech was meant to be a public address rather than a news conference.

He said he would be happy to talk about the recall proposal with journalists at another time.

On whether he would finish his term, Chen said he would leave that to the Taiwanese people.

"I am willing to sacrifice myself for Taiwan and bear the cross of persecution because I believe in Taiwan, its people, democracy and rule of law," he said.

"I am also willing to sacrifice myself for the country if my `horrible death' could ease the grudges some people hold against me," he said, alluding to an attack on him by the KMT chairman.

But violence does not solve any problem, Chen said, adding he believed the Taiwanese people have the wisdom to overcome the current situation calmly and rationally.

Insisting that he had been consistent in regard to cross-strait policy, Chen said he had never accepted the "one China" policy nor recognized the "1992 consensus" and that his position would not change.

"It is easy to visit China and shake hands with Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) as long as I recognize the `1992 consensus' and accept the `one China' policy, but such a visit is meaningless," he said.

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