CHINA / Taiwan, HK, Macao

Chen Shui-bian apologises over scandals
Updated: 2006-05-21 08:54

Taiwan's leader Chen Shui-bian apologised to the Taiwanese public on Saturday for recent scandals that have caused Chen's popularity to plunge to record lows.

According to Taiwan media reports, Chen said, "I'm sorry to everybody," and expressed his readiness to make family members and friends who have violated laws undergo the "sternest investigations".

"I will not shield their faults under any circumstances," he said on the sixth anniversary of coming to office.

For the remaining two years of his final term, he has ordered all family members to stay away from any public undertakings and not to seek gains for themselves.

In one scandal Chen's son-in-law, Chao Chien-ming, a doctor, was accused of insider trading and compelled to quit the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) on Thursday.

He apologised but denied any wrongdoing and offered to donate to charity part of the tens of millions of Taiwan dollars his mother made from trading shares in real estate developer Taiwan Development Corp.

A telephone poll conducted by the United Daily News on Wednesday showed that just 20 percent of respondents approved of Chen's performance, the lowest figure since he won the 2000 presidential election.

A poll by the private Shih Hsin University gave Chen an approval rating of 16 percent.

DPP chairman Yu Shyi-kun also bowed and apologised on Saturday after putting on a street cleaner's yellow-and-orange vest and doing volunteer work, pledging to improve government performance and eradicate corruption.

Ma Ying-jeou, chairman of Taiwan's Kuomintang Party, said that Chen should not only apologize for the actions of his family, but for his party, government and many other things that have disappointed the Taiwanese.

In another scandal, an opposition deputy accused First Lady Wu Shu-chen of accepting department store vouchers worth millions of Taiwan dollars from a friend. Chen has denied the allegations.