Taiwan's KMT votes to support recall of Chen
Updated: 2006-06-07 17:09
TAIPEI - Taiwan's main opposition party voted on Wednesday to support a
referendum to oust "president" Chen Shui-bian amid a corruption scandal that has
embroiled his wife and son-in-law.
Nationalist Party official Tseng
Yung-chuan said the party's Central Standing Committee had approved the measure
during a special meeting.
"We can't wait two years to end Taiwan's
fear," Tseng said, referring to the time left in Chen's term. "We must solve it
"(Chen's) honesty has been called into doubt from a legal
standpoint. He has abused his power and broken the law," he added.
referendum to recall Chen would require the support of two-thirds of Taiwan's
225-seat "legislature" before it could be presented to the island's voters for
In recent days Nationalist Chairman Ma Ying-jeou has come
under heavy pressure from the party to back a recall initiative.
the yes vote, Ma explained why the Nationalists had decided to press forward
with the issue.
"For the past week, we have called on president Chen
Shui-bian to use the method to take responsibility with the least cost to
society, and resign voluntarily," he said.
"But we have found that he put
the interests of the party above those of society."
While opinion polls
suggest Chen could lose in a national referendum, he seems in a far stronger
position in the "legislature", where 35 members of his ruling Democratic
Progressive Party would have to vote with the opposition to put the recall
before the public.
Still, the Nationalists moved ahead with the process,
calculating that a prolonged public debate over the corruption allegations could
further weaken the "president" and even force him to resign, strengthening the
hand of the opposition ahead of the 2008 elections.
scientist Philip Yang of Taipei's National Taiwan University said the
Nationalist strategy is to keep up the pressure on Chen in the hopes of
weakening his support among his own Democratic Progressive Party.
though recalling Chen will be difficult, the opposition is hoping that new
developments in the (corruption) investigation will convince more DPP lawmakers
to side against the president," Yang said.
Before the Nationalists
voted, "premier" Su Tseng-chang - a DPP stalwart - said the opposition was
endangering the rule of law by launching its recall campaign against Chen.
"Chairman Ma, don't destroy the rule of law for the sake of power, don't
set a bad example," Su said at a DPP news conference.
allegations pursued by the Nationalists center on Chen's son-in-law, Chao
Chien-min, who was detained last month on suspicion of insider trading, a charge
he has denied.
Opposition lawmakers have also accused first lady Wu
Shu-chen of involvement in illicit business deals and soliciting favors from
The "presidential office" denies those charges, though
"vice president" Annette Lu _ a close political ally of Chen's - has called the
various corruption allegations and the fallout they have provoked Taiwan's worst
political crisis in more than 25 years.
"Legislative speaker" Wang Jin-pyng
said Wednesday that Nationalist and DPP legislative factions would meet on June
11 to try to decide on an agenda for a special legislative session to consider
the recall initiative.
He said the earliest the issue could be
considered was June 12.
Last Thursday Chen pledged he would cede part of
his powers to Su to ease the pressure for his ouster.
But on Monday, the
opposition accused Chen of failing to honor his pledge and attempting to appease
public opinion by hinting he might appoint an opposition