Taiwanese President Gives Government Control to Premier

Taiwan's President Chen Shui-bian announced he is stepping back from running the island's government, handing authority to the premier in the wake of scandals surrounding the president's family.

Chen issued a written statement pledging he would give full authority to Premier Su Tseng-chang to control Taiwan's Cabinet, and would no longer intervene in the affairs of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, including its political campaigns, the official Central News Agency reported late Wednesday.

The statement also said Chen and his family members promised to "conduct themselves according to the highest ethical standards and live up to the public's expectations," CNA reported.

Chen, who remains the country's head of state and whose term ends in 2008, appeared to be limiting his role to handling foreign policy and issuing broad guidelines for government policies.

The move came amid rising calls in both the ruling DPP and the opposition for the president to take responsibility for a series of scandals embroiling his family and administration.

Police have arrested Chen's son-in-law Chao Chien-min on suspicion he used insider information to profit on the purchases of shares in partly state-owned property company Taiwan Development Corp.

That scandal followed opposition charges that Chen's wife, Wu Shu-chen, received free vouchers from the management of an upscale Taipei department store, and may have played a role in its takeover by a businessman whose bid was less than that of at least one rival suitor.