Scandal-hit Chen urged to resign by old friend

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 August, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 August, 2006, 12:00am

President must take responsibility for graft claims, says ex-DPP chairman

Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian is facing a fresh call for his resignation - this time from an old friend, former Democratic Progressive Party chairman Shih Ming-the.

Condemning the alleged corrupt practices engulfing Mr Chen's family and government, Mr Shih said yesterday the president had to resign to take responsibility for the implication of his son-in-law, Chao Chien-ming, in an insider trading scandal.

'Until now, Chao Chien-ming has yet to admit a mistake,' he said. 'Should Taiwan be brought down by the Chen and Chao families?'

Mr Chen has come under increasing pressure to quit over the corruption allegations tied to his family and government. He survived a legislative vote in June initiated by the opposition to remove him from office, but has since been confronted by a group of pro-DPP scholars calling on him to step down.

In the latest resignation demand, Mr Shih said he had sent a letter to Mr Chen asking him to seriously consider resigning. The letter condemned Mr Chen for embracing business syndicates by inviting business leaders to be his advisers soon after he was elected president in 2000, a step Mr Shih said was the 'first step toward degeneration'.

'If you keep such close contacts with business syndicates, how can you expect your right-hand men, your family and your in-laws to distance themselves from the syndicates?' he asked.

The question was a reference to former presidential chief aide Chen Che-nan who was indicted earlier this year for corruption, Mr Chen's son-in-law who was indicted last month for insider trading, as well as Chao's father, Chao Yu-chu, who allegedly embezzled NT$10 million worth of funds donated to a table-tennis association while he was its chairman.

Mr Chen's wife, Wu Shu-chen, is also under investigation for alleged influence peddling.

The embattled Taiwanese leader, whose second four-year term is due to end in 2008, has refused to resign, saying he has no reason to do so as he has not been directly involved in any corruption scandals.

However, the Control Yuan, Taiwan's top government watchdog, yesterday started an investigation into opposition allegations that the president has a secret bank account containing at least NT$50 million (HK$11.8 million). It is also examining whether Ms Wu has reported the value of her jewellery in accordance with the law.

The Presidential Office has insisted that the secret bank account and the funds donated to Mr Chen during his 2004 campaign were legal because there was no law limiting such donations at that time.

Meanwhile, the Taipei District Court has held a second hearing on the insider trading claims against Chao. No verdict was reached and further hearings are expected.