Sun, Aug 13, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Shih launches anti-Chen campaign

PLEASE STEP DOWN The `Nelson Mandela of Taiwan' unveiled his drive to depose the president, saying he had taken action on behalf of Taiwan, justice and integrity

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Shih Ming-teh (施明德) yesterday urged the public to "stand up" and join his anti-Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) campaign, amid scuffles between Chen's supporters and opponents.

At the fundraising event dubbed "one million citizens to depose President Chen," Shih urged Chen to stop defending himself and his family and step down before it's too late, because the Presidential Office has become a source of social instability.

"When one million citizens stand up, it won't be an ethnic clash or political confrontation. Our only goal would be to oppose corruption and depose A-bian," he said at the event held in Taipei's 228 Peace Memorial Park.

Giving a thumbs down to the president, Shih asked Chen to reflect upon his former campaign slogan in the 1998 Taipei mayoral election -- "To have dreams is beautiful, as hope follows in their wake."

Shih, who some have called the "Nelson Mandela of Taiwan" as he spent 25-years in prison for his pro-democracy activism, asked the president to think about the slogan.

"Please read the slogan out loud and repeat it to the people of Taiwan. Do you give the Taiwanese dreams and hopes?" Shih asked as he launched the campaign.

He said the campaignwasn't launched because he doesn't love the president or the DPP.

"It's because I love Taiwan, justice and integrity more," he said.

Chen Yao-chang (陳耀昌), former convener of Vice President Annette Lu's (呂秀蓮) medical team, who quit last week to join the campaign, urged the DPP to stop its attempts to protect Chen and the administration.

"The DPP's support for the government will only jeopardize its own future and that of Taiwan," he said.

While some in the crowd were seen shedding tears at Shih's remarks and Puyuma folk singer and activist Hu De-fu's (胡德夫) music, a number of scuffles broke out between Chen's supporters and opponents.

Carrying banners that called Shih a "political pimp," the pro-independence "908 Taiwan Nation Movement" group argued with members of the pro-unification Patriot Association who were upset at the group's remarks. The two sides then began scuffling near the site of Shih's event before the police broke up the fight and ordered the protesters to leave.

Peter Wang, (王獻極), convener of the 908 Taiwan Nation group questioned Shih's motivation.

"Since the recall motion failed, what's your reason for demanding the resignation of the president? ... Are there any exchanges of interest behind your campaign?" Wang said, urging Shih to instead support his campaign to ask the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) to return its stolen assets.

Shih's campaign yesterday called on a million people in Taiwan to each make a donation of NT$100 (US$3) to a bank account to fund the anti-Chen Shui-bian movement.

While the campaign to depose Chen will be formally launched on Sept. 9 with daily sit-ins in front of the Presidential Office, it may start earlier if the target can be achieved sooner, Shih said.

Ho De-fen (賀德芬), the campaign's spokesperson and a professor emeritus at National Taiwan University, lashed out at the Ministry of the Interior, which yesterday said Shih was not legally eligible to accept political donations, and said the ministry's move only enhanced their determination to continue the campaign.

The money will be used to pay for food and drinks and cleaning at the proposed sit-in site, she said.

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