Two prominent members of Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said yesterday they were stepping down as "lawmakers" due to alleged corruption by Chen Shui-bian. This increases the pressure on him to resign.
The defections of Lee Wen-chung and Lin Cho-shui are the first major cracks to appear in the DPP since a prosecutor indicted Chen's wife on November 3 for embezzling money from a special "diplomatic" fund and said that Chen himself could be indicted when his immunity from prosecution lapses after he leaves office.
Chen faces a recall motion in Taiwan's "legislature" on November 24. At least 20 DPP members will have to side with the anti-Chen "lawmakers" for the recall to be put to an island-wide "referendum" for final approval.
In a joint statement Lee and Lin said they didn't support the recall motion because it could create serious rifts in society. However, they said, they were leaving the "legislature" to express their dissatisfaction over the fund scandal and other alleged corruption cases that have embroiled Chen and his inner circle for the past six months.
"Our party has had a glorious history but it has also made mistakes," they said. "We're using this small action to make our apology to the public."
The comment appeared to be aimed directly at Chen, who has said he and his wife were innocent of corruption, and insisted he would complete the remaining 18 months of his term.
Last week the DPP voted in a closed session to oppose the recall motion. This move was attacked by Lee and Lin in their statement.
"Our party (leaders) had promised before that once the 'president' was found to be involved in corruption he should resign," they said. "But our handling of the matter has failed to meet public expectations. We should have kept our commitments."
The statement by Lin and Lee follows the publication of an open letter on Friday by a former Chen's adviser calling on him to resign over the corruption allegations. In the letter Nobel laureate Lee Yuan-tseh urged Chen to "admit mistakes" and choose the "correct option" in dealing with the charges against him.
(China Daily November 14, 2006)