The controversy over President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) "state affairs fund" has sparked a heated debate over whether he would do the country a favor by stepping down.
While the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has resolved to wait until the judicial inquiry into the matter is complete, several pro-independence heavyweights and DPP members have called for Chen's resignation following the indictment of first lady Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍).
The former Presidential Office secretary-general, Chen Shih-meng (陳師孟), wrote a letter to the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times' sister newspaper) yesterday urging President Chen to resign temporarily at the beginning of next year so that he could face the judicial inquiry as a civilian. During President Chen's absence, he said that Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) should take power in accordance with the Constitution and President Chen must resume office if he is proven innocent.
Former Academia Sinica president Lee Yuan-tseh (李遠哲) raised eyebrows on Thursday when he issued an open letter to the president asking him to consider resigning for the sake of the nation's stability.
Former presidential policy adviser Kao Chih-ming (高志明) proposed in this week's Taiwan News magazine that President Chen take the initiative to step down even though he believes that the president and his wife are innocent.
Former premier and the DPP's candidate for Taipei mayor Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) said that "stepping down is not the worst case scenario" and that it might be the best way to minimize the social cost.
DPP Legislator Cheng Yun-peng (鄭運鵬) has said that he believed President Chen should take a leave of absence and focus on preparing for the trial, while DPP Legislator Lin Tai-hua (林岱樺) has proposed that the president's rights as a party member be suspended.
The "Generation Forum," a group of young party members established by former director of the DPP's Information and Culture Department Jou Yi-cheng (周奕成), called on the DPP to allow some of its legislators to support the third recall motion instigated by the pan-blue camp so the people could have an opportunity to vote on the issue.
Former senior adviser to the president, Wu Li-pei (
"The president should be taken down by the exact letter of the law," he said. "If the president steps down because of the call of some people, what about those who do not want to see him step down?"
Wu also lashed out at the "red army" led by former DPP chairman Shih Ming-teh (
"In a democracy, street protests are staged to get a message across," Wu said. "Unless they want to start a revolution, they should let the judicial system take it from here."
Chen Yen-hui (
"He should not resign as he promised even if the first lady is convicted," he said.
Even if Chen stepped down, Chen Yen-hui said that the political situation was bound to be complicated by doubts about Lu's leadership and opposition parties continued bashing of the administration.
While some argued that the president's resignation might stir pan-green supporters' sympathy and help the DPP in upcoming elections, Chen Yen-hui said that it remained to be seen whether the controversy would have affect the elections.