The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was dealt another blow yesterday when two prominent legislators resigned to protest the party's handling of the corruption scandal implicating President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and his wife.
DPP Legislators Lin Cho-shui (林濁水) and Lee Wen-chung (李文忠) dropped a bombshell when they announced they would leave the legislature.
Lin and Lee, who were know as "senior reformists" of the party, said the DPP's attitude toward those who have been indicted in connection with the "state affairs fund" case -- first lady Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍) and three presidential aides as well as Chen -- "did not conform to the public's expectations" or the party's high moral standards.
The pair had promised before the indictments were handed down that they would ask Chen to step down if he was "involved or indicted in the case."
They said they did not want to violate the DPP's resolution opposing the third recall motion or hurt the feeling of the party's supporters, although they knew they had to keep their promise. They also said they feared the public would pay a huge cost if the recall motion were put to a referendum. Therefore they decided to resign, they said.
While the two are leaving the legislature, they are not leaving the party. They said they believed the DPP remains the only party where "the force of reform in the nation is concentrated."
"We've never thought about leaving the party. It is, after all, what we have dedicated our best years to," Lee said.
Lin said the DPP has been trusted by the public as a clean and reform-oriented party and that they both felt sad when the public questioned the party's spirit. He said their belief in the party remained unchanged.
When asked what they expected Chen to do in response to their move, Lee said: "Do the right thing."
In a second press conference yesterday, Lee refused to comment on whether the DPP's response to his suggestions on how the party should have dealt with Chen had disappointed him. He also refused to say when he had made the decision to quit.
Both men said they would not change their minds even if senior DPP members tried to dissuade them.
"Thank you, but there's nothing to talk about," Lin said.
They said they made an "imperfect but less harmful" decision as DPP supporters, but they did not encourage other DPP members to do the same.
Their announcement was criticized by fellow DPP members and legislators.
DPP Chairman Yu Shyi-kun said party members should stick together during difficult times because the party would suffer without unity.
Caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (
"The one thing that I feared the most has happened," Ker said.
Presidential Office Deputy Secretary-General Cho Jung-tai (卓榮泰) had called the pair before their press conference to try to get them to change their minds, Ker said.
He said he believed that all DPP members were working hard for the party's future, though in different ways. He urged other members not to blame Lin and Lee for their decisions.
DPP Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (
"We lost the opportunity to have a dialogue with the reformers, the more sophisticated people and the middle class," she said.