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DPP stays mum on indictment of Chen's wife

Su convenes closed-door meeting to confer with Cabinet members on countermeasures

DPP stays mum on indictment of Chen's wife

Members of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party continued yesterday to refrain from making any firm responses to Friday's indictment of first lady Wu Shu-chen (吳淑珍) on corruption charges, but rather, called on the public to wait and give President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) a chance to explain his side of the story.
"We should respect justice, but respecting justice does not necessarily mean that the judiciary is absolutely correct," DPP Chairman Yu Shyi-kun said.
Yu stressed that the case involving the president's and first lady's alleged misuse of the Presidential Office's state affairs fund is still under investigation, and those who have "only" been indicted by prosecutors and have not been determined guilty by the courts, should have an opportunity to protest their innocence.
The DPP chairman said that after the president explains the details of the indictment to the public, the DPP will hold a meeting to decide its response.
DPP legislative leader William Lai (賴清德) said that party members had reached a consensus in an emergency and expanded meeting of the DPP Central Executive Committee held on Friday following the indictment, and had decided to give Chen time and a last opportunity to defend himself and his wife.
The DPP will not express personal opinions on the indictment until Chen gives his explanation of the allegations of corruption against himself and his wife, Lai said.
The DPP America-East Chapter also said that it would be premature to ask Chen to step down or to withdraw from the DPP as he has not been proven guilty of corruption in a court of law. Chen should be given an opportunity to explain about the state affairs fund to not only the public, but also to the DPP and its supporters, the chapter said.
Chen, who spent all day yesterday at the Presidential residence and canceled all scheduled inspection trips, is expected to explain the case today, a source from the Presidential Office disclosed.
At about 4 p.m. yesterday, Chen met with Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), after which the premier said that government operations will not be disrupted because of the recent political furor over the indictment of the first lady.
Meanwhile, Cabinet Spokesman Cheng Wen-tsang (鄭文燦) dismissed local media reports claiming that Su had drafted his resignation and is just waiting for an opportune moment to make the announcement.
Cheng said that Su was in support of the consensus reached in Friday's meeting of the DPP's central executive committee.
Su yesterday morning also held a closed meeting with Cabinet members to confer on countermeasures to the current political crisis, Cheng said, but declined to disclose any details of the discussions.
According to Minister without Portfolio Lin Wan-I, Su has affirmed that he absolutely is not clinging to his current position.
Su will emphasize state stability and will make policy decisions based on the interests of the people rather than his own, Lin stated.
Former Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), who is the DPP candidate in the year-end Taipei City mayoral election, also avoided any discussion of whether or not Chen should step down over the corruption allegations.
On the question of whether the indictment will affect his election campaign, Hsieh said that he has adopted a "business as usual" attitude and that his campaign activities will proceed as scheduled.
DPP caucus whip Chen Chin-jun (陳景峻) admitted that opinions differed sharply among DPP on whether they should continue their support for the president or sever ties with him completely, but the caucus whip declined to disclose any further information.
According to Chinese-language news reports, there was a fierce debate during Friday's central executive committee between members who advocated continued support of Chen Shui-bian and those who thought the party should cut loose of the president and engage in reforms.
DPP Secretary-General Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) last night announced that the DPP is promoting reforms against corruption and is currently in a very important phase of enforcing them for the next year.
Among those who were apparently willing to stick up for the president was DPP Legislator Lin Kuo-ching who said that he still does not believe a president who was willing to slash his salary in half would become embroiled in corruption for the sum of NT$15 million.
On the other hand, DPP Legislator Lin Tai-hua (林岱華) said that the president should consider stepping down in the interests of the country and party.