Taiwan's president calls on his family to show restraint but media, analysts and his own party are unconvinced When a former lawyer from a poor family became the president of Taiwan in 2000, he vowed to introduce reforms and clean governance on an island tired of the corrupt Kuomintang administration. But six years after coming to power, Chen Shui-bian has made public apologies for failing to keep his promise after a series of scandals erupted that pointed back to his family and his independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). His physician son-in-law, Chao Chien-ming, is the latest to be tainted, accused of insider trading. Weeks earlier, the president's wife, Wu Shu-chen, was accused by opposition legislators of accepting gift vouchers from the Sogo department store for helping a businessman's Far Eastern group win control of the store company. Ms Wu and the Presidential Office reject the claim. 'I want to represent the first family to apologise, in the most sincere, humble and responsible manner, to all compatriots in Taiwan,' Mr Chen said after Dr Chao was accused. He is alleged to have improperly traded shares in a property developer, resulting in a profit of NT$400 million ($97.2 million). Prosecutors have detained two businessmen who allegedly played roles in the trading scandal along with Dr Chao. Recent opinion polls show Mr Chen's approval rating falling further to 16 per cent, while that of his party slipped to 17 per cent, a stark contrast to previous polls in 2000, the results of which showed they enjoyed more than 60 per cent approval ratings Before the scandal, Mr Chen had hoped to boost the ratings with his two-nation Latin America visit earlier this month. But before he set off to Paraguay and Costa Rica, two of Taiwan's 25 allies, allegations emerged that his wife had continued to make investments even though the family assets had been put into trust. On Saturday, Mr Chen vowed that in his remaining 700 days in office he would require that members and relatives of the first family strictly discipline themselves and refrain from seeking illicit profits or privileges. But Taiwanese media and analysts remained unconvinced. 'While DPP comrades are trying to keep their distance from him, the general public is wondering who will be the next by the president's side to come under fire for wrongdoing,' said the Taipei-based China Times in an editorial. The paper said that instead of hoping for an improved administration, most members of the public were actually concerned they would have to continue suffering for two more years before Mr Chen steps down in 2008. Another newspaper, the United Daily News, wrote that Mr Chen's performance during the past six years was marked by 'fallen integrity, poor policies and national divide'. It said Mr Chen's repeated about-turns had seriously eroded his credibility, while his failure to keep corruption in check had resulted in alleged irregularities and wrongdoing involving the first family and its relatives. Even some outspoken DPP legislators, including Lin Cho-shui and Lee Wen-chung, have urged Mr Chen to prevent members of the first family, his relatives and his aides from misusing his influence for personal gain. DPP member Fan Chen-tzung, a former head of the government-run Taiwan Fertiliser Corp, has singled out the first lady, Mr Chen's former aide, Chen Che-nan, incumbent aide Ma Yung-cheng, and the first family's doctor, lawyer and accountant as the sources of alleged corruption and irregularities. The doctor, Huang Fang-yen, lawyer, Lin Ming-cheng and accountant, Chang Chao-shun, are said to have a strong influence on the first family. Since becoming president, Mr Chen has largely used his close friends and the people he trusted for senior positions, including Luo Sheng-hsun, a former hat shop manager, who was made head of a government-run pulp and paper company.