Fri, Aug 25, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Cardinal offers his services as DPP-KMT go-between


Catholic Cardinal Paul Shan (單國璽) said yesterday he would like to act as a go-between if ruling and opposition leaders were willing to engage in dialogue, because he hoped that "things can be worked out peacefully."

However, the cardinal said he doubted "the two of them" -- President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) -- were "mature enough" to have meaningful dialogue that could bring harmony to society.

Chen and Ma had a rare dialogue in early April without reaching any major consensus. Since then, the president has been engaged in "damage control" as a string of corruption allegations have been leveled at close aides and members of his family.

Shan, who was recently diagnosed with pulmonary cancer, said he was worried by a rising tide of radical calls for the president to step down, voiced by -- among others -- former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Shih Ming-teh (施明德).

Ma has voiced his support for Shih's campaign and encouraged party members to join a planned sit-in protest, and the DPP has countered with a national campaign to retrieve the KMT's "ill-gotten" assets, creating more turmoil in an already tense society.

Shan said he respects his "good friend" Master Hsing Yun (星雲法師), a Buddhist leader, for issuing a statement calling on the president to voluntarily step down to prevent further social unrest and "maintain his dignity as a decent national leader."

However, Shan said he would not wade into politics.

"Political matters should be left to political figures," he said.

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