Thu, May 25, 2006 - Page 3 News List

President's interference in scandal probe denied

ALLEGATIONS A spokesman for the Presidential Office said that there was no truth to claims that Chen Shui-bian had meddled in the investigation into his son-in-law

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Kaohsiung City Councilor Wang Ling-chiao of the People First Party, right, dressed in a judge's robe and wearing a blonde wig, holds up a newspaper in front of three oversized, doctored placards of first lady Wu Shu-jen, left, President Chen Shui-bian, center, and Chen's son-in-law, Chao Chien-ming. Saying that Chen couldn't even control his own family, she questioned his ability to govern the nation and called for a campaign to stop displaying Chen's photograph in government buildings in protest against the recent scandals involving his family. The protest took place at the Kaohsiung City Council building yesterday.

PHOTO: CHANG CHUNG-YI, TAIPEI TIMES

The Presidential Office yesterday dismissed a rumor that President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) had read an investigation report about his son-in-law's alleged involvement in a stock trading scandal, and that he had called for a suspended sentence in the case of a conviction.

"The president has never seen such a report, nor has he ever made such a remark," said David Lee (李南陽), director-general of the Public Affairs Department of the Presidential Office.

Presidential Office Deputy Secretary-General Cho Jung-tai (卓榮泰) made a similar remark during a question-and-answer session at a legislative committee meeting yesterday morning.

Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) yesterday called on the Ministry of Justice to investigate the claims against the president's son-in-law, Chao Chien-ming (趙建銘), as well as other scandals plaguing the first family in a speedy manner to allay public concern.

"If the ministry fails to do so, it may well remind the public of the `Pachang Creek incident,'" she said.

She was referring to an incident in July 2000 which claimed the lives of four workers when rescuers failed to arrive in time. The entire process was televised live on local TV.

The incident cost then vice premier Yu Shyi-kun his job. Yu's departure made him the shortest-serving vice premier in the nation's history, after a term of just five months.

Although Yu said at the time that the choice to resign was his and his alone, it is believed that the decision came directly from Chen in a bid to help quell discontent by showing that high-ranking government officials should bear the responsibility for mistakes made on their watch.

"It will be a great shame for the entire nation if the investigation fails to bear fruit within three months," Lu said.

"I am calling on the Ministry of Justice, the Bureau of Investigation, the National Police Administration and the Judicial Yuan to step up their efforts and produce a concrete result by Sept. 28, the 20th anniversary of the foundation of the Democratic Progressive Party," she said.

As Chen has repeatedly emphasized that everyone was equal before the law and that the judicial system should handle the case in a swift and stringent manner, Lu said that investigators would be putting the president in an embarrassing position if they failed to resolve the case as soon as possible.

"The longer the investigation drags on, the less confidence the public will have in the government," she said.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lee Ching-hua (李慶華) yesterday threatened to have Chen recalled.

KMT Legislator Lo Shih-hsiung (羅世雄) expressed a similar sentiment, saying that "the president has to clear up all the scandals within one month, or I will launch a campaign to recall him."

Lo's proposal failed to gain the backing of the full KMT caucus.

People First Party (PFP) legislators were divided over Lo's proposal yesterday.

PFP caucus whip Lee Hung-chun (李鴻鈞) said that recalling the president for the reasons stated by Lo would be going too far.

Chang Hsien-yao (張顯耀), the PFP's director of policy research, however, said he would agree with any proposal that could force the president to take responsibility and step down.

Meanwhile, the Presidential Office yesterday responded to an allegation made by KMT Legislator Chiu Yi (邱毅) and Taipei City Councilor Lee Ching-yuan (李慶元) that a local conglomerate picked up the bill when first lady Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍) bought her son a watch worth millions of NT dollars.

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