Sat, Nov 04, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Presidential Office in crisis: DPP awaits Chen's response on funds

INQUEST Wu Shu-jen and former Presidential Office officials Ma Yung-cheng, Lin Te-hsun and a treasurer will be referred to the party's Central Review Committee

By Jimmy Chuang and Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTERS , WITH CNA

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) last night said it would demand that President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) clarify allegations leveled by prosecutors before it decides on referring him to the party's anti-corruption commission.

"The prosecutor did not say the president pocketed the state fund. The suspicious points in the indictment resulted from the president's need to protect details of the country's confidential diplomacy. We hope he will explain himself to the public," DPP Chairman Yu Shyi-kun said at a press conference last night following a four-hour Central Executive Committee meeting.

The committee also decided to refer first lady Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍), former Presidential Office deputy secretary-general Ma Yung-cheng (馬永成), Presidential Office director Lin Te-hsun (林德訓) and treasurer Chen Chien-hwei (陳鎮慧) -- all of whom were charged by prosecutors over the "state affairs fund" scandal -- to the party's Central Review Committee.

Yu also offered an apology to the public and said the party felt the "deepest regret" over the turmoil the matter had brought to the country.

Shortly after the DPP's press conference, the Presidential Office issued a statement saying that the president, after reading over the indictment report, will make a public statement within two days.

The DPP is facing the greatest crisis since the party's founding 20 years ago.

It could be expected that reform-minded Young Turks in the DPP will urge the party to do some soul-searching and push for "clean government" reforms, while other elected DPP public officials concerned about their political future may attempt to distance themselves from the president and his indicted aides.

The DPP's practice of holding its public officeholders to high standards by stripping them of party membership once indicted will also be tested. If the DPP applies a double standard for the president, the party may risk losing voter support and prematurely seal its fate in next year's legislative election and the 2008 presidential election.

The DPP's presidential hopefuls in the 2008 election -- including Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and DPP Chairman Yu Shyi-kun -- will also need to decide whether to distance themselves from the president or continue pledging allegiance to him and possibly hurting their own chances of winning the presidency.

A more immediate headache for the DPP could be a voter revolt in the Dec. 9 mayoral elections in Taipei and Kaohsiung.

Meanwhile, former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) yesterday issued a statement rebutting a report by SET-TV, which said Lee had influenced Prosecutor Eric Chen (陳瑞仁), who charged first lady Wu with corruption.

Eric Chen had questioned Lee as a witness in the middle of September in connection with the investigation into President Chen's alleged misuse of the "state affairs fund."

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