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Taiwan's Chen Survives 2nd Impeachment
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Taiwan's scandal-plagued leader Chen Shui-bian yesterday survived a second "parliamentary" vote aimed at ousting him when the opposition failed to garner enough support to pass the motion.


The bid of the People First Party (PFP) to push Chen out of office required the approval of two-thirds of the island's 220 "legislators," or 147 votes.


But only 116 cast ballots in favor, while all 85 "lawmakers" from Chen's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) boycotted the vote.


The 12 members of DPP's ally, the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU), and one independent cast invalid ballots. Another independent cast a "no" vote.


Calling Chen by his nickname, "legislators" from the Kuomintang (KMT) chanted "national referendum on A-Bian's future."


The bill, introduced by PFP member Lu Hsue-chang on September 26, said Chen lacked the ability to govern, accused him of corruption and called his staff incompetent.


The motion would have triggered an island-wide referendum on Chen's fate in three months if it had passed. It was the second time such a bill had failed, with the first one losing momentum in June.


Upon hearing the news, KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou expressed his regret. He said that the opposition would go on calling for Chen to step down if more evidence of Chen's alleged corruption was found.


PFP Chairman James Soong vowed to push for a no-confidence vote on the "cabinet," which only requires the approval of half of all "lawmakers." The party, together with allies KMT and New Party, hold a slim majority of 112 seats in the "parliament."


"We are really disappointed but we are not discouraged. We will propose a no-confidence vote," he said.


If passed, the move would lead to the resignation of "premier" Su Tseng-chang while Chen could dissolve the "parliament" if he chose to do so.


The vote came a day after police rescinded a permit for anti-Chen campaigners to demonstrate outside the "presidential office." They accused organizers of fomenting disorder during "national day" celebrations earlier in the week.


More than 1.5 million people rallied against Chen on Tuesday -- Taiwan's "national day" -- in the largest protest of a campaign launched by former DPP Chairman Shih Ming-the on September 9 to demand Chen's resignation over a series of cases alleging corruption.


However, Shih's office said yesterday they will stop organizing round-the-clock protests to "give relief" to the police, the media and their supporters. Instead, they will hold small-scale rallies at night.


(China Daily October 14, 2006)

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