Wed, Nov 28, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Media hunt for `martial law' instigator

`TROUBLEMAKER' TV commentator Chen Li-hung denied advising the president, while criticizing him for making rash statements about annulling election results

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Democratic Progressive Party legislators Hsieh Hsin-ni, left, and Hsu Kuo-yung said in the legislature yesterday that Article 76 of the Local Government Act gives the Central Election Commission the right to take over the organization of elections from local election commissions.

PHOTO: CNA

Following President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) pledge on Monday that he would not declare martial law to settle a ballot row, media attention has shifted to finding out who made the suggestion on implementing emergency rule.

Chen raised eyebrows on Sunday night when he said during a campaign rally in Shulin (樹林), Taipei County, that he was considering four options -- declaring martial law, annulling the results of elections in pan-blue-controlled areas, replacing local election commission heads, or asking the Central Election Commission (CEC) to postpone the elections.

The CEC on Nov. 16 decided to use a one-step voting procedure in which voters will receive two ballots for the legislative elections and two referendum ballots at the same time and cast them into four different boxes.

However, 18 pan-blue local government chiefs insist on following a two-step voting process, whereby voters first cast their legislative election ballots before receiving their referendum ballots.

Chen reiterated yesterday that he would not impose martial law during his presidency. He said the then Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government did not do so after the devastating earthquake on Sept. 21, 1999, nor did he do so at the height of a campaign to oust him last year.

Urging the public to follow the CEC's decision, Chen said he believed the CEC would negotiate with the 18 counties and cities over the issue and that it would handle the matter in the most appropriate manner.

He criticized the opposition's attempt to boycott the one-step voting system as a move aimed at protecting the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) "stolen assets" and opposing the government campaign to join the UN under the name Taiwan.

"Their purpose is to let Taiwan become part of China and prevent Taiwan from becoming an independent state," he said. "Voting is our constitutional right. The administration will do its best to protect this right and maintain order at polling stations."

A report in the Chinese-language United Daily News yesterday implied that TV political commentator Chen Li-hung (陳立宏) and political talk show host Cheng Hung-yi (鄭弘儀) were the instigators.

Chen Li-hung did not deny the speculation yesterday.

He told a TV program on SET-TV that the comments he made on a TV talk show dealt only with the voting dispute and were not targeted at any particular individual or party.

But Chen Li-hung dismissed talk that he advised the president on the matter because he, as well as the other guests and the host of the program, had not met or talked with Chen recently.

Nor were they planning to do so, he said.

Chen Li-hung also criticized the president for making such rash statements and misleading the public into thinking they were the troublemakers.

As the head of state, Chen is in no position to say that he is considering invalidating the election results, he said.

"Is that what a responsible politician should do?" he asked. "While he should be spending time and effort trying to figure out a way to deal with the problem, all he does is carry on stumping for DPP candidates."

Meanwhile, Legislator David Huang (黃適卓), a former member of the Taiwan Solidarity Union, yesterday revealed that his father, former TSU chairman Huang Chu-wen (黃主文), had made the recommendation that the CEC replace local election commission heads and delay the elections if necessary.

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