Thu, Aug 10, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Presidential Office replies to Shih Ming-teh's letter

`OLD FRIENDS' Presidential Office Secretary-General Mark Chen issued a guarded response to the former DPP leader's open letter demanding that the president quit

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) "highly values" former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Shih Ming-teh's (施明德) opinion and a meeting could be arranged for the "two old friends" to talk things over, said Presidential Office Secretary-General Mark Chen (陳唐山) yesterday after Shih wrote a letter urging the president to resign.

Dubbing himself the president's "old comrade in arms," Shih wrote a letter to the president on Monday whose content was published in the Chinese-language China Times.

Corruption claims

In the letter, Shih urged the president to step down from his post since he has lost the people's trust following his son-in-laws' alleged involvement in a corruption scandal and the recent controversy over the Presidential Office's special allowances.

"For the sake of Taiwan and the DPP, I urge Chen to step down bravely. Only a truly brave warrior admits his mistakes and gives up what he holds dear," the letter said.

Shih held a press conference yesterday morning to elaborate his motives for writing the letter, saying that he "agonized" over writing it, yet he had to speak on behalf of the common people.

Shih urged the president to stop defending himself and his family and to step down as soon as possible since the Presidential Office has become a source of social unrest.

"President Chen asked people to believe in him yet did not offer the truth," Shih said. "What can people do when the president and his son-in-law refuse to admit their mistakes?"

In response, Mark Chen said that he and the president knew about the letter after reading the newspaper in the morning. The Presidential Office received the letter at noon.

Mark Chen said the president respects Shih very much and Shih's opinions on constitutional reform and freedom of the press had influenced him a lot.

"President Chen and Shih are good friends and old friends. They have not seen each other for a long time. I hope I have a chance to arrange a meeting between the two," Mark Chen said in response to questions from reporters before attending the DPP's weekly central standing committee meeting yesterday afternoon.

Different voices

When asked how the president reacted to Shih's call for his resignation, Mark Chen said: "President Chen knows he needs to listen to many different voices. Shih's voice is significant to the president."

DPP spokesman Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) said yesterday that the DPP appreciated Shih's concern for the party and said the DPP will speed up reforms and is confident of winning the year-end elections.

But DPP caucus whip Yeh Yi-ching (葉宜津) said yesterday that Shih did not understand the DPP's core values. It has been a long while since Shih left the party, he said.

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