Tue, Nov 07, 2006 - Page 1 News List

DPP divided over fund scandal, Chen's future

OPTIONS While the ruling party officially stood behind its man, some lawmakers and grassroots supporters suggested alternatives to Chen quitting or staying on

By Flora Wang, Shih Hsiu-chuan and Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Rifts began to appear in the Demo-cratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday over how President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) should react to a corruption scandal, as the party officially said it supported him, although some members called on him to "temporarily" resign.

DPP Legislator Cheng Yun-peng (鄭運鵬) told reporters that the DPP might ask Chen to step down "officially or unofficially," and allow the vice president and the Executive Yuan to run the government to "prevent political opposition."

Cheng said the opposition parties will not have any reason to push for a recall motion if the president were to temporarily step down.

DPP Legislator Lee Wen-chung (李文忠) said Cheng's suggestion was "wise."

He added that the president did not explain clearly many questionable points about the "state affairs fund" case during his televised address on Sunday.

Lee said that the DPP should also investigate the case.

DPP Legislator Lin Cho-shui (林濁水) said the DPP was not applying "the highest standards," adding that Chen could consider "taking leave."

DPP Legislator Kao Chih-peng (高志鵬) disagreed.

He said there were no regulations that allowed the president to "take leave," adding that if Chen asked for such leave, it could trigger a constitutional crisis.

Meanwhile, DPP legislators Lan Mei-chin (藍美津), Charles Chiang (江昭儀), Lee Ming-hsien (李明憲) and Wang Shu-hui (王淑慧) held a press conference yesterday morning to announce their belief in and support for Chen.

But not everyone in the pan-green camp was so forgiving.

Jou Yi-cheng (周奕成), the chief executive officer of the Generations Forum -- an organization composed of young DPP members -- told the Taipei Times that members of the forum consider Chen "an incapable leader."

"If he stays, he is the president constitutionally. He can exercise his constitutional power, but we refuse to take him as our political leader," Jou said.

"His political leadership is already denied [by us]," Jou said.

The pro-independence Taipei Society also issued an official statement on Saturday urging Chen to step down.

The society's president, Hawang Shiow-duan (黃秀端), told the Taipei Times that the society's stance remained unchanged after Chen's national address.

She said Chen may not be able to lead the country effectively even if he finishes his term.

"In terms of the cost the public has to pay, the president's resignation is the best choice," Hawang said.

Meanwhile, despite pessimism over whether a third motion against Chen could pass, pan-blue lawmakers yesterday said that they would still introduce the motion.

The third recall motion is expected to be placed on the legislative agenda for review by the pan-blue dominated Procedure Committee today.

However, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and People First Party (PFP) lawmakers were still divided on whether to call for a no-confidence vote against Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), a move that might result in the dissolution of the legislature.

"It's a fanciful hope that the president would step down voluntarily. If the third recall motion fails, we would propose a no-confidence vote," PFP Spokesman Lee Hung-chun (李鴻鈞) said.

But KMT caucus whip Tsai Chin-lung (蔡錦隆) declined to put his weight behind a no-confidence vote, only saying that the party did not rule out forcing Chen's resignation by "other measures" should a third recall fail.

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