Sun, Jul 16, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Pan-green academics turn on Chen

A HOUSE DIVIDED While the academics called for Chen to seriously consider stepping down, other groups were planning a similar conference to counter the motion

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH CNA

After surviving a recall motion initiated by the pan-blue camp last month, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) is facing his toughest political challenge yet as his own camp appears divided on whether he should step down amid allegations of corruption involving his family and close aides.

A group of pan-green academics yesterday held a press conference urging Chen to take political and moral responsibility and seriously consider stepping down, while another pro-green group was mulling whether to hold a press conference tomorrow to counter the former's motion.

A statement entitled "Democracy and the Moral Crisis of Taiwanese Identity -- Our Appeal to the President, the Ruling Party and Taiwanese Citizens," was released yesterday at the press conference by a number of pan-green academics.

Group member Fan Yun (范雲), quoting from the statement, said: "We expect President Chen to realize how heavy his responsibility is as a president ... When he loses credibility and the trust of the people, we urge him to seriously consider resigning from his post."

Together with a signature drive launched earlier this week, which has attracted more than 4,000 signatures, the group pressed for the president to resign voluntarily in order to "set a good example and make a contribution to Taiwan's democracy."

Wu Nai-teh (吳乃德), one of the academics and the younger brother of former Taiwan Stock Exchange chairman Wu Nai-jen (吳乃仁), denied the move was an "anti-Chen Shui-bian movement."

He said that seeking a more mature democracy and Taiwanese identity were the ultimate goal.

"Taking down the president is not the objective. What we want is to raise the quality of Taiwan's democracy," he said

Wu added that Chen's resignation on his own initiative would help raise the quality of democratic politics.

Chang Fu-chung (張富忠), editor in chief of Formosa magazine and a pro-democracy movement veteran, lashed out at the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for "sinking into depravity" over the past six years as the ruling party.

Chang also said that the DPP had drifted away from its spirit and ideals established during the dangwai ("outside the party," 黨外) democratic movement period.

Chang questioned the DPP's silence on recent corruption cases involving the president's family members and close aides in an attempt to protect Chen.

"Where is the party's self-critical spirit now?" he said.

The academics said that the president failed to clarify the corruption scandals and lost his ability to solve the country's crisis as a leader of pro-localization forces.

If the president shrugged off their appeal and refused to step down, Wu Rwei-ren (吳叡人), a researcher at Academia Sinica, said the group would continue the signature drive, while Lee Ting-tsan (李丁讚), a sociology professor at National Tsinghua University, suggested that the DPP should revoke Chen's party membership.

While the group's online signature drive has attracted thousands of signatures over the past two days, the Web site's lack of an identity verification system has allowed some mischief makers into the site. Names like Chen Shui-bian, Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), and even US President George W. Bush were spotted on the petition before being removed.

Meanwhile, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday said that the group's view is similar to that of the pan-blue camp.

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