Mr. Chen has rejected the mounting calls for him to step down, two years before his second four-year term expires. And for good reasons, I believe. Yes, Mr. Chen's image has been tainted by recent developments. His son-in-law, Chao Chien-ming has been indicted on charges of insider trading. First Lady Wu Shu-chen has been questioned about accepting department store gift vouchers. His former deputy chief-of-staff, Chen Che-nan, faces corruption charges. And Mr. Chen himself is being investigated for an under-documented portion of his state affairs budget. I'm all for the downfall of Mr. Chen if he's to be found guilty of any violation of the law by the judiciary. However, the president hasn't even been charged yet and there's no credible indication of such an outcome.
Politics is politics and the opposition is under no obligation to be nice to Mr. Chen. In a democracy, the opposition has every right to make life miserable for the ruling party, as along as they're doing it within the existing channels to play the game. However, they have tried their hands to evict Mr. Chen from office and failed — a vote on a possible recall referendum on the president was defeated at the Legislative Yuan, or parliament, two months ago. The Pan-Blue camp now is trying to mobilize the people to topple a democratically-elected government. This is not the way to address your grievances — the ballot box is.
And if you haven't read it, former AIT Chairman Nat Bellocchi's commentary yesterday in the Taipei Times should not be missed:
These days, Taiwanese media spend almost all of their energy on producing stories about the need for President Chen Shui-bian (
陳水扁) to step down, despite the lack of judicial evidence that he has committed any illegal act. The purpose of all this is not primarily to destroy the president, but to keep him and his government occupied on this issue while the pan-blue opposition prepares for the forthcoming elections.
The opposition has failed to have Chen legally recalled and now is turning to political means. The difference in the present effort is that it is being made by non-governmental organizations and individuals, based primarily on information that has not been proven.
Nonetheless, it has generated a large number of supporters, mostly pan-blue of course, but also some intellectuals and dissatisfied pan-green followers. However, increasingly we now see more of the intellectuals, some of whom were originally gung-ho with their anti-Chen rhetoric, questioning the wisdom of bringing Chen down.