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Intelligence: The Week Ahead
How Long Can Estrada Last?; Chen Shui-Bian's Struggle With the Opposition; Tommy Suharto Affair; No Clinton Ticket to Pyongyang
BY S. WAYNE MORRISON

November 6, 2000
Web posted at 5:30 p.m. Hong Kong time, 5:30 a.m. EDT


Estrada: Exit Strategies
Time appears to be running out fast for Philippine President Joseph Estrada, accused of receiving $11.7 million, much of it gambling proceeds from an illegal numbers game. Tainted by this and earlier scandals, Estrada is facing up to the growing momentum of moves to oust him from the presidency. Since the latest allegations were made on Oct. 9 (aired by a provincial chief who is a self-confessed former crony of Estrada), the president has denied them and said he would not resign. By the weekend, however, defections of cabinet members, congressmen and senators made it clear that impeachment proceedings against him — preparations for which may begin today — would likely succeed. People once known to be the
exmovie star's friends and allies, including from the entertainment industry, were among prominent faces at a big anti-Estrada rally led by former president Corazon Aquino in Manila on Saturday. Now there is a talk of a deal: that if Estrada quits, he will not be prosecuted. A theory that Estrada might go into exile as part of a deal was being discounted today. Waiting to move into the presidency is Vice President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, a 53-year-old U.S.-trained economist. On reports of the growing pressure on Estrada to quit, the Philippine peso rose to 48.5 to the U.S. dollar, from nearly 51 before the weekend.

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Will Taiwan's Legislature Move Against Chen Shui-bian?
An apology to an opposition leader failed to defuse a crisis for President Chen Shui-bian over the weekend. Chen said sorry to Kuomintang chairman Lien Chan — and the nation — for the timing of an announcement to scrap Nuclear Power Plant No. 4 just over a week earlier. The sore point: A half-hour after Chen had agreed to consider the opposition's compromise proposal on the nuclear power plant, Premier Chang Chun-hsiung announced that the plant, two-thirds built, would be abandoned. Chen, of the Democratic Progressive Party, still defends Chang's decision. Members of the legislature, which is dominated by the opposition, have threatened to start moves to oust Chen from the presidency. The KMT said following the apology that it not changed its position on the anti-Chen motion before the legislature.

Chasing Tommy Suharto
Since he was sentenced to 18 months in jail on Sept. 22, the youngest son of former president Suharto and his lawyers have seemed to exhaust every possible avenue in order for him to stay free. Hutomo Manadala Putra, better known as Tommy, was finally due today to start serving the sentence for graft in a land deal — but still he eluded the authorities. Over the weekend, Tommy Suharto couldn't be found, though his lawyers maintained he was in Jakarta and hadn't made a run for it. The delay was due to his attention to legalities and the paper work, they said. President Abdurrahman Wahid has rejected Tommy Suharto's plea for a pardon.

Hopes Fading for a Clinton Trip to Pyongyang
It all depends on whether American and North Korean negotiators can move now toward having Pyongyang abandon missile exports and its indigenous missile program. Talks held in Kuala Lumpur last week apparently have not achieved the sort of progress regarded as a prerequisite for President Bill Clinton to make an unprecedented visit to North Korea this month. Hopes for a breakthrough had been raised by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's trip to Pyongyang in October. Clinton is scheduled to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum meeting in Brunei Nov. 15-16 and afterwards visit Vietnam. The Pyongyang stop would be on his homeward journey. U.S. officials say the Kuala Lumpur talks made gains, but not sufficient to reach an accord.

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