May 30, 2006

Taiwan opposition waits for scandals to snowball

By Benjamin Kang Lim

TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwan's biggest opposition party is
waiting for scandals besetting President Chen Shui-bian to
snowball and implicate other members of the first family before
seeking his ouster, party leader Ma Ying-jeou said on Tuesday.

The opposition Nationalist Party has been inundated with
complaints after Ma deflected calls for Chen to be removed from
office in a parliamentary vote over an insider trading scandal
which has ensnared the president's son-in-law.

The 55-year-old party chairman defended himself, saying he
was waiting for investigations into scandals to implicate other
members of the first family and for deputies of Chen's
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to take a recall motion on

"We're only seeing the tip of the iceberg," the
Harvard-educated Ma, who plans to run for president in 2008,
told a news conference.

"If the first lady or even the president is involved, I
think the situation will be much different and I think the
scandals now being investigated do have that potential" for
Chen to be sacked, he said.

Opposition politicians have accused First Lady Wu Shu-chen
of accepting department store gift certificates worth millions
of Taiwan dollars and using her influence to bring about a
change in the store's management. She has denied the

Chen's son-in-law, Chao Chien-ming, and three others have
been detained on suspicion of using insider information to
profit from trading in shares of real estate developer Taiwan
Development Corp.

Ma said the Nationalists' priority was to continue exposing
scandals and ensuring investigations were impartial.

He said any move to remove Chen was difficult without the
support of DPP lawmakers because it needed a two-thirds
majority in parliament.

Taiwan's two biggest opposition parties have a razor-thin

"We have not ruled out the possibility of exercising a
recall, but we are waiting for the most opportune moment to do
it so that we can get it done," said Ma, mayor of Taipei.

Chen's approval rating has slumped to new lows but the DPP
has thrown its weight behind the president.

Ma tiptoed around a question whether the Nationalists saw
Chen as the lesser of two evils compared with Vice President
Annette Lu, who speaks her mind and is not popular with the
party's faction leaders.

"Why not?" Ma said when asked if the vice president was
capable of doing the job if the president stepped down.