Opposition member resigns after slamming ex-Taiwanese president

Opposition member resigns after slamming ex-Taiwanese president
Tsai Ing-wen, chairwoman of the leading opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen yesterday approved party spokeswoman Hsu Chia-ching's resignation after the latter revealed further corruption evidence against former President Chen Shui-bian.

According to unnamed ranking officials of the main opposition party, Tsai felt that Hsu's remarks were unproven and inappropriate, and she had overstepped her position as party spokeswoman.

It was reported yesterday that Hsu had claimed an entrepreneur told her about the former president and his requests for bribes in exchange for favors. "An influential boss told me that once Chen asked to see him and his fellow entrepreneurs, and the entire room was full of bigwigs in the construction industry, and everyone was (asked) to pay some NT$30 million(S$1.3 million) or NT$50 million, several billion was raked up that time," Hsu was reported to have said.

Hsu apparently made the remarks during her recent trip to the United States, in a speech she made at a meeting for Taiwanese people in Dallas, Texas. Although it was a private trip, Tsai felt that her comments had gone too far, said the DPP official.

In her US speech, Hsu also questioned why the DPP was supposedly obliged to allow Chen's son to have a legislator seat, asking "What contributions has Chen Chih-chung made?" She implied that Chen's son had been pressuring the DPP to grant him not only party membership recently, but also nominate him to run for the Legislature.

"Chen has contributed to Taiwan, but this does not mean the mistakes made by his family can be ignored ... why was he sentenced to serve time in jail?" Hsu was heard to have said, and proceeded to list Chen's past wrongdoings, including the time he attempted to give her NT$1 million when she was running for Taipei City councilor.

"There are many issues which the DPP has not gained knowledge of, we must face these bravely."

"No one criticizes Chen Chih-chung, because he is A-bian's son. But what is his contribution to Taiwan? Did you accept graft too?" said Hsu.

DPP Lawmakers Slam Hsu

"There have been a lot of rumours about the former president's corruption case, and Tsai has heard many of them.

The justice departments have looked into this, and the DPP believes their judgment, though asking for fair treatment in the face of justice," said the DPP official.

Hsu should take responsibility for proving her words true and explaining her claims, said DPP legislative whip Tsai Chi-chang, who was among many DPP legislators saying that they have never heard anything about Chen receiving graft in the past.

"These remarks are serious, and may involve legal responsibility ... Hsu ought to clarify the source of her news; like how many construction bigwigs were there and how much money was exchanged," said DPP Legislator Gao Jih-peng.

"We are not sure if this will affect the DPP's chances in future elections just yet, but if evidence is provided, then things will of course be different. Even Chen's medical parole may be jeopardized," said Gao.

Rejecting all interviews, Hsu said yesterday that the remarks were her own, and had nothing to do with Tsai.

Chen Threatens to 'Bring Down Tsai'

Upon hearing Hsu's remarks and "accusations" when the media interviewed Chen's son Chen Chih-chung, the former president was so furious that he did not sleep all night and wanted to commit suicide, said Chen Chao-tzu, one of Chen's medical team doctors.

"He even wanted to write a suicide letter to protest," said the physician, who relayed the former president's thoughts on social media.

The former president also threatened that he would "bring down Tsai Ing-wen and make it impossible for her to be elected president in 2016."

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