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DPP lawmaker suspended for funeral intrusion (update 2)
Central News Agency
2014-05-09 10:19 PM
Taipei, May 9 (CNA) Opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chen Ou-po has been suspended from his party's legislative caucus for six months after intruding on the funeral of President Ma Ying-jeou's mother earlier this week, the DPP caucus announced Friday. Chen, a first-term legislator from Yilan County, was also forced to resign from his post as a convener of the Legislative Yuan's committee on defense and foreign affairs. He attended a press conference held at noon to announce the DPP caucus decision. Gao Jyh-Peng, a caucus whip, said DPP lawmakers decided to give Chen "the most severe punishment" to highlight the party's "highest moral standards." At the press conference, Gao also commended Chen for taking the initiative to "acknowledge his mistake and apologize." Wu Ping-jui, another caucus whip who spoke at the press conference, explained the disciplinary action means Chen cannot serve as a committee convener or hold leadership positions in the DPP caucus during the six-month period. Chen will still be allowed to attend caucus meetings but won't have a vote in those meetings during that time. Chen said once again that he was very sorry for the episode. He showed up uninvited at the private funeral on May 5 ostensibly to pay his respects but complained loudly about the organization of the funeral service, including the fact that he was not greeted by anyone from the grieving family. Chen has since come under pressure from the public, the media and several well-known figures, chief among them business magnate and Hon Hai Group Chairman Terry Gou, who blasted Chen's behavior as "no better than that of an animal." Gou also urged citizens of Yilan County to recall the lawmaker, describing him as a "disgrace" to Yilan. Chen has offered his apologies to the Ma family but claimed that the entire debacle was simply the result of a misunderstanding, and that it was not his intention to be a disruption or show disrespect. He added, however, that he would respect any disciplinary measures taken by the DPP. Following the incident, the DPP immediately issued a statement through spokesman Chang Dun-han condemning the lawmaker's actions and promising to look into the matter and consider appropriate punishment. Chang also expressed the DPP's apologies and condolences to the Ma family. Along with a handful of top government officials, the funeral was attended by members of the immediate family of Chin Hou-hsiu, who died of multiple organ failure on May 2 at the age of 91. Former DPP Chairman Hsu Hsin-liang expressed regret over the suspension, however, describing Chen's visit as "not malicious" and saying Gou's comment was "excessive." "I believe that Chen merely wanted to express his condolences, not to crash the funeral," Hsu said in response to questions raised by reporters during a break in a Europe Day celebration. As for Gou's criticism, "I found it excessive, and I assume Terry Gou made the call based simply on media reports," he said. (By John Scot Feng, Jay Chen and James Lee)
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