Sat, May 27, 2000 - Page 1 News List

Tang says he will stay on the job

ILLNESS The premier admitted that he had asked the president if he could step down for health reasons before the inauguration, but says now that he has been sworn in, he is in the job for the long haul

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Premier Tang Fei (唐飛) yesterday confirmed rumors that he had tried to resign his post before the presidential inauguration ceremony a week ago, but said now that he had been inducted into the job he was determined to continue.

"Since I have been sworn in, I will not express any intention to resign irresponsibly or on a whim," Tang said.

PFP lawmaker Chen Chao-jung (陳朝容) claimed on Thursday that Tang had asked President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) to let him resign from his post after the inauguration last Saturday.

Tang said yesterday that he had offered his resignation but it was before the inauguration ceremony.

"I was worried my poor health would have negatively affected the operation of the Cabinet at that time," Tang said. "But President Chen requested that I rest more and he said my physical condition would recover."

He added that the president declined to approve his request, saying: "After you are better, everything will return to normal."

Speaking with reporters yesterday before going to his office, Tang said he would devote all his energy to performing well in his post.

"I have no idea about where or who revealed those rumors which said I wanted to quit after the inauguration ceremony," Tang told reporters.

However, opposition lawmakers urged Tang to tell the public the truth about his health, saying his physical condition should be publicized regularly in the future to prevent any incidents which might hold up the workings of the government.

"Taiwan should establish the measures of publicizing high ranking officials' physical condition, just like other advanced countries do," said Chiu Chuang-liang (邱創良), legislative caucus leader of the People First Party.

KMT lawmaker, Ho Chi-hui (何智輝), accused the new government of a cover-up.

"The new government should not cheat the general public. Tang did offer his resignation to the president and now other officials, especially Vice Premier Yu Shyi-kun, deny that fact," he said.

The new premier underwent surgery April 15 to remove a benign tumor from his chest. The incision later became infected, forcing him to return to hospital on May 3.

Opposition lawmakers stressed that the question they were concerned with was not only how quickly Tang would recover from the surgery, but how quickly he would be able to shoulder his full workload.

Earlier this week Tang's doctor suggested that the premier's condition would only permit him to stay in his office for half a day, every other day, until late June.

Responding to lawmakers' questions of his ability to appear before the legislature for a policy report followed by a question and answer session, Tang showed some hesitation towards taking part in the interpellation session scheduled for June 2.

"It is hard in my physical condition to accept the lawmakers' interpellation after making the policy report on June 2. The doctors said that three months is needed to recover completely from the the chest surgery I underwent," Tang said.

The PFP legislative caucus requested that Tang's doctors deliver a report to the Legislative Yuan after Tang's medical checkup at Veterans General Hospital next Tuesday to help clear up concerns over the premier's health.

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