Sun, Aug 20, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Attorneys launch anti-Chen campaign

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH CNA

John Wei, a figure behind a campaign by 14 bar associations urging President Chen Shui-bian to step down, weeps after reading the campaign statement at a press conference in Taipei yesterday.

PHOTO: CNA

Representatives of 14 bar associations around the country launched a campaign yesterday urging President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) to resign.

At a press conference in Taipei yesterday, the attorneys asked their colleagues nationwide to sign their joint statement which said that only if Chen resigns will the nation be able to "say goodbye to corruption and welcome the rule of law."

"In March 2000, we lawyers were very proud that a lawyer and a long-time fighter for democracy, Chen Shui-bian, was elected to the presidential office, but Chen Shui-bian, in the wake of recent developments, can apparently no longer be trusted with responsibility for promoting the rule of law and clean politics in the country," the statement said.

These include alleged irregularities involving Chen's family and close aides, his failure to fully disclose his assets, his alleged use of others' receipts to claim expenses under his special state affairs expense allowance and alleged collusion between his administration and business groups, they noted.

"Chen's behavior in office has defamed the reputation of attorneys," the statement said.

John Wei (魏千峰), an attorney and the former chairman of the Taiwan Association for Human Rights, said lawyers such as Chen, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), former Control Yuan investigative member Lee Shen-yi (李伸一) and others had devoted themselves to various reform movements and had become role models for social movements.

However, since the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) took power in 2000, the government has failed to counter institutionalized corruption dating back to the rule of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), Wei said at the press conference.

Attorney Lo Bing-cheng (羅秉成), who served as Chen's defense attorney in the lawsuit over the vote recount after the 2004 presidential election, told the press conference that Chen had failed to improve human rights, social justice and the rule of law.

As a fearless defense attorney in the lawsuit over the Kaohsiung Incident in 1979, Chen should now be brave enough to step down, Lo added.

Various groups, including academics and a group led by former DPP chairman Shih Ming-teh (施明德) have called on Chen to resign in the wake of the alleged scandals.

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