Wed, May 10, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Scrutiny just part of the job, Chen says

TAKEN IN STRIDE The president said in Costa Rica that it is natural for his family to be in the public eye, but rejected suggestions that his wife just cares about money

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday said the first family must expect a high level of public scrutiny and that legal actions they take against their accusers are the last resort to put groundless allegations to rest.

"Political figures are always in the public eye. My family has come to realize that sometimes they cannot do things even if they are legal, because although their actions are legitimate, they may cause public concern," he said.

Chen made the remark during a tea party with the Taiwanese press in Costa Rica yesterday. The event was broadcast live on Taiwanese television.

Chen dismissed recent criticism that first lady Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍) loves money because, being wheelchair-bound, she finds it the best protection and source of security for her. A former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) member made those remarks on a TV talk show last month.

"If she loved money, she wouldn't have rejected her parents' objections and married me," he said. "She is the one who encouraged me to give up [working at a] lucrative law firm and supported me in defending the accused in the `Kaohsiung Incident.' She does not have the power to walk with her two legs, but she is the most powerful and supportive woman in my life."

Chen said he realizes that the public would like to see his wheelchair-bound wife engage in more charity activities, but he is afraid that she lacks the ability to do so.

"It is not a secret that her health is bad, and I have to apologize on her behalf that she cannot meet the public's expectations in this regard," he said.

Wu's bad health will prevent her from attending the graduation ceremonies of her son and daughter-in-law in the US next month.

Chen said that he had originally planned to attend the events on her behalf, but the plan fell flat because the US government refused his request to make a transit stop in New York.

As his family has taken legal actions against some of its accusers, Chen said they would prove their innocence through the judicial system.

On the subject of his and the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) declining approval ratings, Chen called on party members and their supporters to help the party boost its flagging morale rather than looking only to him to turn the situation around.

"The party and the government belong to everybody and need everybody's help, not help from one single individual," he said. "It is very important that everybody has faith and works together."

Chen made the remark in response to a media inquiry about whether he could help boost the DPP's sagging morale by standing on the frontlines to defend the first family, which has been dogged by a deluge of allegations.

When asked whether the DPP leadership would prefer to see former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) run in the Taipei mayoral election and Acting Kaohsiung Mayor Yeh Chu-lan (葉菊蘭) in the Kaohsiung mayoral poll, Chen said that the DPP's choice of candidates would have to follow the party's democratic selection mechanism.

As all party members have come to a consensus to pick the best candidates in accordance with the party's nomination process, Chen said he would not interfere in the matter, and believed that the candidates picked by the party would put the party's interests first.

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