Thu, May 08, 2008 - Page 3 News List

PNG aid scandal: DPP forms unit to probe scandal

AFTER-EFFECTS DPP chairman candidate Koo Kwang-ming said he was suspending campaign activities and that the party should now shift into damage-control mode

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) formed a taskforce yesterday to investigate the Papua New Guinea fund scandal and asked President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) to offer a clear account of the matter.

Party Secretary-General Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) said the party hoped to begin the process in the next two days and have preliminary results before the inauguration of the new government on May 20.

Vice premier Chiou I-jen (邱義仁), foreign minister of foreign affairs James Huang (黃志芳) and former deputy minister of National Defense Ko Cheng-heng (柯承亨) resigned over the scandal on Tuesday.

Lee told reporters after the committee meeting that the party supported the judiciary investigation into the matter and would form a taskforce to look into the controversy.

“Our position is clear: We will not cover up the mistakes and the work of evildoers,” he said. “While we trust the judiciary investigation, it is equally important to protect the rights and procedural justice of the individuals involved.”

Describing the scandal as “ridiculous,” “off the beam” and “detestable,” Lee apologized to the public, saying the scandal had caused irredeemable damage, but that the party believed Chiou, Huang and Ko were innocent.

Instead of urging Chen to personally explain the case to the public, the DPP’s Central Standing Committee resolved to respect the judiciary inquiry and to establish a six-person taskforce to shed light on the matter

DPP Legislator Chai Trong-rong (蔡同榮) had intended to file a petition asking the committee to request that Chen explain the situation to the public. DPP Chairman Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) supported Chai’s suggestion. Hsieh said nobody would believe the DPP if the people involved were not compelled to tell the truth.

Describing the handling of the scandal as crude, Hsieh said it reflected the DPP administration’s arrogance of power.

Despite Hsieh’s support, Chai could not collect sufficient signatures for the proposal.

Presidential Office Secretary-General Mark Chen (陳唐山), invited by the committee to speak on the fund scandal, said it was unnecessary to ask President Chen to explain the matter as he had already stated his position clearly in a statement on Tuesday, saying that he knew very few details. Both Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) and Chen Chi-sheng (陳繼盛), chairman of the DPP’s Arbitration Committee, concurred. Lu said the public should wait for the judiciary to uncover the remaining facts.

At a separate setting yesterday, aspiring DPP chairman Koo Kwang-ming (辜寬敏) said he would immediately halt his campaign activities and urged the party to find a way to respond to the escalating controversy over the scandal.

Saying it was more important to regain the trust of supporters than to elect a new party leader, Koo said the diplomatic blunder had delivered yet another blow to the image of the party.

Koo proposed that Hsieh call a meeting with all three candidates vying for the party’s top job to come up with a plan to limit the damage to the party.

Asked whether Koo would recommend to Hsieh that he postpone the election, Koo campaign manager Chen Shih-meng (陳師孟) said Koo did not intend to do so and that he would attend the TV debate on Saturday.

DPP Secretary-General Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) said yesterday that the election would likely go on as scheduled.

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