Thu, Aug 24, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Chen respects Shih's right to protest

OLIVE BRANCH The president said that a legal protest would not result in punishment of participants, but he called on everyone involved to conduct themselves peacefully

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

From left to right, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Tainan City councilors Tang Yi-ching and Chiu Li-li and DPP Legislator Tang Bi-a yesterday ring the bell of the Tainan District Prosecutors' Office. The trio filed a lawsuit against former DPP chairman Shih Ming-teh, claiming that his fundraising campaign is illegal.

PHOTO: HUANG PO-LANG, TAIPEI TIMES

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said yesterday that he respected former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Shih Ming-teh's (施明德) initiative to launch a sit-in asking for his resignation.

"It deserves sympathy that Shih wrote a letter during his incarceration to dictator Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) asking for forgiveness," Chen said. "As a popularly elected president, I respect and tolerate the sit-in he [Shih] has organized. He will not be put in jail [for organizing the sit-in], nor does he need to write any letter asking for my forgiveness."

The letter the president referred to was almost made public by DPP Legislator Lin Kuo-ching (林國慶) on Tuesday. Lin was forced to scrap his planned reading of the document in the face of opposition from Shih's first wife, Chen Li-chu (陳麗珠).

Chen Shui-bian said that, provided Shih did not break the law, he would never be arrested.

He called on the public and political parties to value the nation's democratic achievements and exercise self-restraint.

He made the remarks while receiving legislative members of Germany's Social Democratic Labor party at the Presidential Office yesterday afternoon.

Supporting Chen's comments, Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) called for mutual respect between the DPP and Shih.

"I don't really want to see this happen," she said. "Since we come from the same root, why do we want to attack each other?" she asked, alluding to a well-known poem from the Jin Dynasty.

Lu, who served nearly five-and-a-half years in jail during the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) period of rule, said that she did not want to see anyone target the weaknesses of those who had been persecuted during the White Terror era.

Lu was sentenced to a 12-year term by the then KMT administration on charges of sedition for a 20-minute speech on human rights she made in December 1979 in Kaohsiung.

Shih was sentenced to life imprisonment on charges of treason in April 1980 and was pardoned in May 1990 by then president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝).

Earlier, in 1964, Shih was sentenced to life imprisonment for trying to organize an association to push for Taiwanese independence. He was released in 1977 after serving a 15-year jail term.

Commenting on the Taipei City police's approval of the 24-hour sit-in Shih plans to hold in front of the Presidential Office, Lu called on KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to reconsider.

DPP Legislator Wang Shih-cheng (王世堅) yesterday called on Shih to wake up and realize that the KMT had been responsible for the break-up of his family.

"It is ironic that you [Shih] let the old ghost of an evil regime dictate to you and are willing to go all out to serve the KMT," he said. "Please wake up! This is my last call. Please wake up before a terrible mistake is made."

Calling on Shih not to be a pawn of the pan-blue camp, Lin Kuo-ching urged the former DPP chairman to respond to his questions about a condominium which Lin claims was a gift from fugitive tycoon Chen Yu-hao (陳由豪).

"Please don't be such a cowardly turtle curling up in your own shell," he said.

Lin also urged religious leaders to use their influence to prevent the sit-in degenerating into violence and making headlines around the world. If this happened, Lin said, China might take the opportunity to invoke its "Anti-Secession" Law and invade the country.

DPP Legislator Wang Sing-nan (王幸男) published an open letter to Shih in yesterday's edition of the China Times. The letter, titled "Give Taiwan a Break!" detailed Shih's alleged love affairs and political persecution during the era of KMT rule.

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