Fri, Aug 25, 2006 - Page 3 News List

DPP figures call for ceasefire with Shih

LET HIM BE The DPP's candidate for Kaohsiung mayor said that lawmakers should respect Shih Ming-teh's right to protest, even if they don't agree with his actions

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Presbyterian reverends Chen Yu-chuen, left, Kao Chun-ming, center, and Chang Teh-chien pray at a press conference yesterday that Taiwan will not be engulfed in a crisis created by the stand-off between the pan-blue and pan-green camps. The trio also called on Shih Ming-teh and the participants in his campaign to unseat President Chen Shui-bian to show their love and care for the nation.

PHOTO: LIAO CHEN-HUEI, TAIPEI TIMES

After a number of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers launched a volley of verbal abuse at former party chairman Shih Ming-teh (施明德) in recent days, several DPP figures yesterday called on party members to cease their personal attacks.

"I don't agree with our DPP comrades' criticism of Shih's personal character, even though I disagree with Shih's campaign to oust the president," said Chen Chu (陳菊), the party's candidate for December's Kaohsiung City mayoral election.

Chen, a close friend of Shih, made the remarks at a press conference where she presented an open letter to Shih, who is behind a sit-in protest aimed at ousting the president.

She urged the party to "tolerate" Shih's right to do and say what he wants.

"The DPP should put up with Shih's sit-in protest for half a month, one month, or however long he wants it to go on," she said.

Chen made two points in support of her argument.

"To collect more than NT$ 100 million [US$3.1 million] in such a short time means that there are actually a great number of people who are unhappy with the DPP. We have to face up to their indignation, which is what a ruling party should do."

"Also, people have the right to express their indignation with the government. We have to defend that right because it was what we stood for in the past -- even to the extent of going to prison" she added.

Chen and Shih were both arrested and jailed following the Formosa Incident in 1979, in which the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government cracked down on a rally organized by pro-democracy dissidents.

Ever since Shih launched his campaign demanding the president's resignation, a number of DPP lawmakers have criticized him for being a tool of the pan-blue camp in their bid to topple the president.

Calling Shih her "eternal older brother," Chen said she had no doubt that he had changed his political position, but urged him to call off his campaign.

Chen said that the media would not portray Shih as a hero if he succeeded in forcing the president from office.

"I want to remind Shih that there are no heroes in a democratic society. There are only people. Taiwan doesn't need a revolution," Chen said. "Now that the president is elected through a democratic system, we have to resort to the methods of recall or impeachment to demand the president's resignation," Chen said.

DPP Legislator Lin Cho-shui (林濁水) also urged party members not to attack Shih's personal character, which he said would only make the situation worse.

"It's cruel to have Shih's ex-wife make accusations and expose the letter Shih wrote during his incarceration asking for forgiveness," Lin said.

He said that people who didn't dedicate themselves to opposing the authoritarian regime during the martial law period should not criticize Shih at this time.

"As politicians, those who oppose Shih's efforts to oust the president should challenge him with political arguments, rather than talking about his personal affairs," he added.

In other developments, despite KMT Chairman's Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) announcement that the party would not take part in Shih's campaign to avoid confrontation between the pan-green and pan-blue camps, a group of KMT lawmakers said that they would participate anyway.

The lawmakers said they would participate as individuals.

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