Houston Community News >> Taiwan President Denies Corruption

11/5/2006 Taiwan- Nov. 5 (Bloomberg) -- Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian denied accusations of corruption in a live TV address, and said that he was willing to waive his presidential immunity from prosecution.

``I have nothing to be afraid of,'' Chen said in the speech, which was broadcast on TVBS and all other news channels. He said that the money being investigated by prosecutors was a ``presidential fund'' used for official purposes and secret missions.

Chen made the speech two days after his wife and three aides were indicted on charges of document forgery and misusing state funds. Around 10,000 Taiwanese marched to the presidential office in Taipei today to call for his resignation, while the main opposition party has said it will introduce a third recall motion in less than five months into the legislature this week.

``No money from the presidential fund ended up in my or my family members' pockets,'' Chen said. ``All the money in the fund was used for official affairs.''

The presidential fund supported secret missions that had been compromised by the investigation, Chen said, adding that he was worried about the safety of a missing agent. Local newspapers have previously said that a so-called 'Agent A' was on a mission in mainland China.

``Taiwan's diplomatic and defense functions are up against China, which are very difficult missions,'' Chen said. ``Prosecutors failed to protect the secrecy of those missions and have placed the people involved at risk.''

Chen said he needed to create the presidential fund to perform his role, as the official rules were unclear on how and when state funds could be used and what receipts were needed.

President's Wife

The president's wife Wu Shu-chen used other people's receipts to collect about NT$14.8 million ($450,000) from the state, prosecutors said on Nov 3.

Chen said accusing a politician of embezzlement was ``a death sentence'' for their career. He had no need for the money, he added, saying that he voluntarily halved his salary.

The main opposition Kuomintang, or KMT, party will also introduce a recall motion this week, Chairman Ma Ying-jeou said on Nov. 3. A two-thirds majority in the opposition-controlled 220-seat parliament in favor of the motion would trigger a national referendum on Chen's ouster.

``Most Taiwanese want President Chen to step down,'' Ma said on local TV station TVBS today before Chen's speech.

DPP Position

At least 12 of the 85 lawmakers in Chen's Democratic Progressive Party, or DPP, must back the recall motion for it to gain the necessary two-thirds majority in the 220-seat parliament. All party members were absent for the two previous recall votes in October and June, which Chen survived.

The KMT has secured 10 DPP votes in favor of a recall and may need another four, KMT legislator Joanna Lei said yesterday.

The DPP is likely to announce its position on a recall on Nov. 8, after it holds an internal party meeting, Yang Tai-shuenn, a political science professor at the Chinese Culture University in Taipei, said yesterday. The party called on Chen to explain his use of state funds on Friday.

Taiwan hasn't recalled a president since it held direct elections for the post in 1996.

Chen came to power in 2000 on a pro-independence platform, enraging mainland China. He won re-election in 2004. His second term is due to run until 2008. The Taiwan constitution bars presidents from serving more than two terms.

Chen announced in September 2000 that he would forfeit half of his salary starting from January 2001 to symbolize the government's commitment to rein in a budget deficit. Chen's salary was NT$822,000 a month before the cut.

Taiwan and China have been ruled separately since the Communist Party won a civil war in 1949. The government in Beijing considers Taiwan a part of its territory that must be reunited, by force if necessary.

(Contributed by Tim Culpan and George Hsu, Bloomberg News)