Thu, Jun 15, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Chen's silence triggers legislative babble

POLITICKING DPP legislative whip Ker Chien-ming dismissed the recall motion as James Soong's idea, and called Ma Ying-jeou a `stupid political hack' for backing it

By Shih Hsiu-chuan and Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

People First Party (PFP) legislative caucus whip Lu Hsueh-chang, right, and PFP Legislator Lee Hung-chun yesterday criticize President Chen Shui-bian's decision not to issue a rebuttal to demands for his recall. They said that Chen is defying public opinion as represented by the legislature. They also urged Democratic Progressive Party legislators to support the pan-blue camp's recall motion.

PHOTO: LIAO CHENG-HUEI, TAIPEI TIMES

The president's decision not to issue a rebuttal to the recall motion sparked a hot debate among legislators yesterday.

Pan-blue legislators accused the president of defying public opinion represented by the legislature, as the recall proposal was passed by a clear majority of the special legislative session running from Tuesday to June 30.

"I thought the president refused because he was afraid of facing the scandals involved his families and aides," said Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus whip Pan Wei-kang (潘維剛).

"Apparently he must have nothing to say in reply," Pan said.

On Tuesday, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) issued an official document to inform President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) of the legislature's intention to recall him.

The motion was put on agenda with 113 affirmative votes to 96 dissenting.

Chen can respond to the recall proposal before June 20.

People First Party (PFP) caucus whip Lu Hsueh-chang (呂學樟) urged the president not to be "a turtle hiding in his shell," meaning that he should face the charges against him and submit a response as soon as possible.

"Chen's refusal to respond means that he implicitly admits the legitimacy of the recall proposal. He is trying to show that the recall proposal can't harm him at all," Lee said.

Starting today, the KMT and PFP caucuses will hold at least seven hearings to examine recent scandals related to the first family and the president's aides.

Some of the accusations are targeted at first lady Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍) for allegedly engaging in influence peddling with the Sogo department store and the president's son-in-law's for involvement in insider trading.

Elsewhere, the president was charged with mishandling cross-strait relations and the economy. There are a total of 10 charges.

The pan-blues have been encouraging all those involved to attend the hearings.

"Through the course of the hearings, we want to let people know that recalling the president is their basic right," Lu said.

"The president's personal violation of the law is not a precondition for the people to exercise this right," he said.

The pan-greens, on the other hand, are considering boycotting the legislature's four-day review, which has been slated for next Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and the following Monday, June 26.

"We might decline to attend the legislature's review meetings for the recall," said Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘).

DPP caucus members are divided over how to react to the pan-blues' recall campaign -- as are other members of the pan-green camp.

Some are keen to face the recall process, while others say the DPP should just ignore it.

Ker said the KMT and the PFP did not originally plan to call a special legislative session but changed their minds once the recall plan was launched.

"We think the recall motion is only a by-product of the contention between PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) and KMT Taipei mayoral candidate Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌)," Ker said.

He said it was Soong who insisted on the recall motion.

KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) originally did not want to follow Soong, who wants to use the recall motion to further his plans to run for Taipei mayor, ker said.

However, Ma later found that Soong's recall gambit might threaten Hau's election prospects, so he changed his mind, Ker said.

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