Thu, Jun 22, 2006 - Page 3 News List

President's speech to nation divides political analysts

DISAGREEMENT Some political pundits saw sincerity in the president's comments, but he was also criticized for failing to prove that the recall motion didn't make sense

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) public address on Tuesday night received a mixed response from analysts yesterday.

Tuesday was the last day Chen could make a formal rebuttal to the opposition-initiated recall motion. Instead of issuing a statement to the legislature, however, Chen decided to address the nation and respond to the opposition pan-blue camp's 10 accusations.

The accusations include corruption, abuse of power, obstruction of justice, suppression of the media, incompetent governance and violating the Constitution.

The legislature yesterday began the four-day review of the recall proposal and will vote on it on Tuesday.

The motion is considered unlikely to pass given the high threshold required -- it must win two-thirds support in the legislature before a nationwide referendum can be held.

Commenting on the president's address, Lee Yeau-tarn (李酉潭), an associate professor at National Chengchi University's Sun Yat-sen Graduate Institute of Social Sciences and Humanities, said Chen had shown sincerity in answering the accusations.

"It is impossible to make everybody in the pan-blue camp happy because their only agenda is to topple the government and win elections, especially the presidential election in 2008," he said.

On a scale from zero to 100, Lee said that he rated Chen's performance a 90.

As recalling the president is a poor option in a country with a presidential and semi-presidential system, Lee said that the pan-blue camp was abusing constitutional powers to achieve its goal of seizing power.

The pan-blue camp had hoped to set a constitutional precedent by having Chen offer an official rebuttal and by questioning officials at public hearings.

Chen Yen-hui (陳延輝), a professor at the Graduate Institute of Political Science at National Taiwan Normal University, expressed a similar view.

"I watched the president's televised public address from start to finish and found it very touching, especially when he said he was willing to sacrifice himself for democracy," he said. "Only a believer in peace and democracy would make such a remark."

Chen Yen-hui said the younger generation might not understand how politics operated and what life was like during the 50 years of KMT rule, but that a 60-year-old man like him, who had lived through the authoritarian era, knew exactly what the president was talking about in his speech.

"I'm afraid if we do not march forward down the road of democracy, we will be again governed by a dictatorial regime," he said.

On a scale from zero to 100, he rated President Chen's performance a 90.

However, Chen Yen-hui said there was still much room for improvement in terms of the administration's performance, although he recognized the dilemma the government faced at the legislature.

Ger Yeong-kuang (葛永光), a professor of political science at National Taiwan University, gave President Chen's address a low mark, saying that he had failed in three areas.

First, Ger said the president failed to reach the ultimate goal of effectively convincing the public and opposition parties that the 10 accusations made to justify the recall motion did not make sense.

In terms of the content of the speech, Ger said that the president failed to offer a clear account of the corruption scandals plaguing his family and in-laws.

"It gives the public the impression that the more he tries to explain the scandals, the more it is like he is trying to straighten out the contradictions of a lie with more lies," he said.

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