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Future of efforts to recall president remains uncertain

KMT legislative caucus set to introduce third motion against Chen tomorrow

Future of efforts to recall president remains uncertain

The fate of a fresh campaign to recall President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) remains uncertain as several ruling Democratic Progressive Party lawmakers yesterday voiced their reservations. However, Taiwan Solidarity Union members have pledged to vote for the motion.
On Monday, the opposition Kuomintang legislative caucus is set to introduce a third recall motion against Chen after prosecutors on Friday indicted his wife Wu Shu-chen (吳淑珍) and three close aides on graft, forgery, and perjury charges.
The DPP caucus may make or break the success of the recall motion, which needs support from at least two thirds of the 220 lawmakers to clear the Legislature and force a referendum on whether Chen should stay in office. Two previous motions have failed to gather sufficient votes.
The 85 DPP lawmakers, while divided on whether they should defend Chen in the legal disputes, frowned on the drastic moves made to force his resignation, saying the action would serve to fuel tension between pan-green and pan-blue supporters. DPP Legislator Hong Chi-chang said he was sad to learn of the indictments but doubted that removing Chen from office is necessary.
KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has asked Chen to resign on his own accord and offer a clear account of the indictments within 48 hours. People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) has suggested Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) make preparations to succeed Chen and consult opposition parties before filling key government posts. The pro-independence TSU, normally an ally of the DPP, said its 12 lawmakers would back a recall motion this time now that the prosecutors have confirmed Chen's involvement in corruption scandals.
But Hong argued that all parties should be more patient as Chen has promised to tell his side of the story on Sunday.
"It's ill-advised to jump to conclusions before hearing an explanation from Chen," said Hong. Many of his colleagues have turned off their phones to avoid commenting on the issue.
Hong also declined to remark on Chen's integrity but said he and other colleagues would rally behind the party when asked to vote on the recall motion.
"It is uncommon for ruling party lawmakers to endorse a motion to recall the president," the six-term lawmaker said. "Chen's supporters will not remain mum any longer if he is sacked. Political tumult will envelop the nation, which is not in the best interest of the people."
Chen Ching-te echoed the sentiment, saying his party is most likely to take up the gauntlet when challenged to a showdown. While hesitant to comment on the indictments, Chen Ching-te argued that the opposition parties are seeking to advance their own interests by introducing a fresh recall motion.
"The DPP would fall apart if it failed to put up a defense," Chen Ching-te said.
Concern about party unity prompted other DPP lawmakers to adopt a self-imposed gag rule.
Shen Fa-hui, a novice lawmaker who had urged his party to engage in soul-searching, said he would comply with its decision on the recall vote whether he likes it or not.
"It is important that party members practice self-restraint after making their views known in internal meetings," Shen said. He related there were vehement exchanges during an emergency meeting on the indictments Friday night but that all agreed to stay mum to the media until hearing the president's account.
DPP lawmaker Lin Chung-mo, known for his outspokenness, said he would not back a corrupt president but he believed the first family did not pocket any public money. As the Presidential Office has said the money at issue was spent on covert diplomatic operations, Lin advised Chen Shui-bian to detail the flows of the fund rather than put his own career in jeopardy.
"DPP supporters will understand if the president tells the truth," Lin said. "They will blame the opposition parties for Taiwan's diplomatic predicament caused by the disclosure."
DPP legislative leader Chen Chin-jun (陳景峻), who is responsible for defending his party's policies, said he had nothing to say about the indictments involving the first family except that it made him sad.


Updated : 2021-10-26 21:03 GMT+08:00