President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday said he would only step down in accordance with constitutional procedures and that any movement asking him to resign must act according to democratic means and not resort to violence.
Chen was responding to an anti-Chen movement being led by former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Shih Ming-teh (施明德) who demanded he step down amid a string of corruption scandals surrounding Chen.
Chen said there was a time limit to his presidential term, and that any resignation process must be in compliance with the constitution.
"The Constitution has rules about how the president should be treated if he has done a poor job. Whether you recall, impeach the president or dissolve the Cabinet, the approaches are still part of a constitutional order ? This is what anyone living in a democracy must respect," Chen said.
"But if the means are via confrontation and a revolution where bloodshed is likely to occur, it would be a regression in our democracy," Chen said in a speech entitled "The Art of National Leadership" he made to the Ketagelan Institute, an educational institution he founded.
Chen, embroiled in controversy involving the alleged misuse of the Presidential Office's special state fund for his family's own expenses, yesterday defended himself by saying the problems were "inevitable difficulties" when a country goes through a transitional period from authoritarianism to democracy.
Referring to the use of the special state fund, which in past administrations had often not been disclosed at all, Chen said people shouldn't be judged by different standards when gauging the changing perceptions toward justice in such a transitional period.
"There are some practices that need to be corrected. But there shouldn't be any double standard when correcting these mistakes by forgiving guilt in the past but condemning current problems," he said.
Chen noted that if he had done anything illegal, he would be subject to investigation by the government's judicial system and the watchdogs which are responsible for overseeing the behavior of public servants.
However, Chen said the functioning of these government agencies had been affected by the current status of the Control Yuan, the government's watchdog agency, since an opposition-led boycott of the president's nominees for the watchdog has been in place since 2004.
In light of this, he promised the opposition parties that he would be willing to submit new nominations for the Control Yuan if they would stop insisting on a higher approval threshold for the nominees. The opposition want nominees to require the consent of two thirds of sitting legislators instead of the current half.
Chen also stressed in his speech the importance of making constitutional changes in order to resolve the chaos facing the nation's political system and to decide whether the country should adopt a presidential or a parliamentary system.
"Our constitution is a mess," Chen said.
He said a lot of the responsibility for the political chaos was the confusion of power structures between a presidential system and a parliamentary system and called for the construction of a new constitution that would promote good governance.
Chen spoke of how the issue of a "Taiwan identity" had created numerous political conflicts and that many in Taiwan held unrealistic fantasies about China.