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Intelligence: The Week Ahead
Chen May Face No-Confidence Motion; More Pressure for Estrada to Go; Missile Talks Will Help Decide Clinton Visit
BY S. WAYNE MORRISON

October 30, 2000
Web posted at 5:30 p.m. Hong Kong time, 5:30 a.m. EDT


Will the opposition unite against Chen Shui-bian?
This week, President Chen Shui-bian's government may be confronted with a no-confidence motion that is the first joint action by the two big opposition parties in Taiwan's national legislature. The motion stems from the scrapping of Taiwan's partly built fourth nuclear power plant, for environmental reasons, which has been strongly opposed by the opposition and business circles.

The motion is to be introduced by the People First Party, whose leader James Soong Chu-yu came second in the March presidential election. Likely to be supported by the Kuomintang, the largest party in the legislature, the motion would target Chang Chung-hsiung, the new premier of the government led by Chen's Democratic Progressive Party, and his cabinet.

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Chang's predecessor, Tang Fei, a Kuomintang member, resigned a few weeks ago over the suspension of the nuclear plant contract. (The previous KMT government had established the plant, now one-third complete.) His departure delivered a blow to Chen's vow to govern for all Taiwan people, not just in the interests of the DPP. And it shifted attention from Chen's handling of cross-strait issues to growing controversy over his domestic policies.

If the PFP and the KMT join forces to strike at Chen's government, it will be the first major cooperation by two bitter rivals. Soong broke away from the KMT to form the PFP as his election vehicle. The Friday announcement scrapping the plant was seen as a slap in the face for KMT leader Lien Chan, who had held a reconciliation meeting with Chen to discuss the issue just an hour beforehand.

Growing momentum against Estrada
Demands for President Joseph Estrada to resign over a kickback allegation are building. And the peso is continuing its decline, today slipping slightly to 51.3 to the dollar. At the weekend Vice President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and four other opposition leaders forged a pact calling on Estrada to quit and urged Filipinos to mount protests against him. Already the Roman Catholic Church and business circles have called on Estrada to resign, and there are now signs that he is losing support in the movie industry as well. Movie stardom had catapulted him into politics. Estrada has refused to resign, claiming adherence to the constitutional process and pointing to polls in his favor. A Philippine Senate committee today resumed hearing evidence on the charges by provincial governorLuis Singson that Estrada received kickbacks from illegal gambling and tax money from tobacco.

Clinton wants missile progress before he visits North Korea
Talks planned for this week between the United States and North Korea over its missile deployments will be "very important" in deciding whether President Bill Clinton visits Pyongyang in November. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's successful visit to North Korea early last week had raised the prospect that Clinton would go there. President Kim Jong Il had suggested to Albright that he was ready to suspend development of a planned ballistic missile development program. Such a move may be necessary before Clinton decides to visit, although there are other issues also to be resolved by the superpower and North Korea, which is moving away from its long-established isolation. "We still have concerns in the missile area," said Clinton. "We are working on it."

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