Fri, Dec 01, 2006 - Page 1 News List

DPP strips first lady and top Chen aides of their party rights

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

First lady Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍) and three of President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) top aides were yesterday stripped of their Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) rights for one-and-a-half years for their involvement in the "state affairs fund" controversy.

The DPP's Central Evaluation Committee announced the suspensions after reaching a unanimous decision. The decision took immediate effect.

It is DPP policy that members are subject to suspension of their party rights if they are indicted.

Wu has been indicted on corruption and forgery charges, while former Presidential Office deputy general-secretary Ma Yung-cheng (馬永成), director of the Presidential Office secretariat Lin Te-hsun (林德訓) and Presidential Office treasurer Chen Cheng-hui (陳鎮慧) were indicted on various charges.

The committee came under fire last Thursday when it failed to address the issue because a quorum could not be reached. The committee had planned to tackle the matter after the Taipei and Kaohsiung mayoral elections, but met yesterday in response to media and public pressure.

All 11 members of the committee attended yesterday's meeting.

DPP Legislator Gao Jyh-peng (高志鵬) told reporters after the meeting that the committee members believed in the four people's innocence, and would restore their party rights if they are found innocent at their first trial.

While Wu and the three aides did not attend the meeting, former presidential aide Chiang Chih-ming (江志銘) requested to handle their defense.

Chiang, a former chairman of the evaluation committee of the DPP's Taipei chapter, said that the matter should be handled by the Taipei chapter rather than the Central Evaluation Committee, as the four people were "regular party members," rather than administrative chiefs or elected officials.

Gao disagreed, saying that Ma and Lin were "important government officials" and that their cases could be dealt with as a single case because of their close connections.

It would therefore be inappropriate to let the party's Taipei chapter handle the matter, he said.

Gao, who doubles up as the committee's chairman, did not chair yesterday's meeting, citing his close relationship with the president.

Gao is a former secretary-general of the now disbanded Justice Alliance, which was co-founded by President Chen.

Gao said that he was not trying to shirk responsibility, but would like to avoid unnecessary speculation and establish a precedent to ensure the committee's impartiality.

DPP Legislator Tu Wen-ching (杜文卿) was elected acting chair.

The committee decided to deal with cases involving two other party members, Yen Wan-chin (顏萬進) and Lin Chung-cheng (林忠正), at its next meeting.

Yen, former vice minister of the interior, was indicted for receiving bribes in connection with the construction of a cable car system and other scandals.

Prosecutors suspect that Lin Chung-cheng, who is in police custody, accepted bribes in return for insider information on the stock market, to which he had access as a Financial Supervisory Commission member.

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