Taiwan's first lady faces
corruption charges By John Ng
HONG KONG - Pressure on Taiwan's embattled
President Chen Shui-bian to step down heightened
sharply on Friday after public prosecutors
announced they would file corruption charges
against his wife, Wu Shu-chen.
to the island's government-run Central News
Agency, prosecutors had also found evidence that
Chen was implicated in the corruption case, but as
Taiwanese presidents are immune
criminal charges, no action would be taken now. A
formal indictment against Chen could be issued
after he steps down or finishes his term,
prosecutor Chang Wen-cheng said.
prosecutor of the Taiwan High Prosecutors' Office
said at a media briefing that Wu was accused of
embezzlement, forgery of documents and perjury
involving NT$14.8 million (US$448,500).
Three former aides of Chen, including Ma
Yong-cheng, the former secretary general of the
Presidential Office, Lin Teh-shun and an
accountant, Chen Chen-hui, were also indicted in
the case, which involved the mishandling of a
secret state fund, said Chang.
investigation, which was launched on June 29, had
involved the summoning of 276 witnesses, Chang
said. "Finally, we have found evidence that
between July 2002 and March 2006, Wu Shu-chen,
through other persons' purchase invoices,
embezzled over NT$14.8 million of secret state
funds," Chang said.
Both Chen and Wu have
repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
High Court prosecutor has also determined that
President Chen is involved in the case ... but
under the constitution we have to wait until he is
recalled or finishes his term before we can take
further action," Chang said.
investigations into Chen and Wu, and separates
investigation and charges against their
son-in-law, Chao Chien-ming, have sent Chen's
support rate to as low as 18%, leading to
continuous street protests calling for his Chen's
The prosecutors' announcement
immediately sparked off a now round of calls for
Chen to step down.
Ma Ying-jeou, chairman
of the major opposition Kuomintang (KMT), said
Chen should step down as soon as possible, urging
Chen's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to force
him to resign.
The KMT and another
opposition party, the People First Party, said
that if Chen still refuses to resign they will
move for his recall (resignation) in the
Legislative Yuan, Taiwan's parliament.
Ming-te, former DPP chairman who organized
hundreds of thousands of protesters to take to the
streets demanding Chen's stepping down in
September-October, called his supporters to gather
on Friday in front of Presidential House to demand
Chen's immediate resignation.
Taiwan's constitution, if Chen steps down, Vice
President Annette Lu Hsiu-lien will become
However, political analysts
believe Chen will fight to the last minute against
resignation and there will be political
instability in Taiwan in the coming weeks.
John Ng is a Hong Kong-based