Tue, Nov 07, 2000 - Page 1 News List

Representation at APEC forum still undecided

WHO WILL GO?Sources say the president has other candidates lined up to go to Brunei if the KMT won't budge on not permitting Vincent Siew to represent Taiwan

By Monique Chu and Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTERS

With only nine days to go before this year's Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, uncertainty remains over who will represent Taiwan at the group's annual meeting of leaders.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials, sources inside the Presidential Office as well as DPP lawmakers said yesterday that KMT Vice Chairman Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) was still the one chosen to represent President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) at the summit, although Chen already has alternative candidates in mind.

"A second-choice representative is waiting in the wings if [Siew] cannot go," said a DPP legislator, who declined to be named.

The lawmaker confirmed local media reports that Central Bank Governor Perng Fai-nan (彭淮南) was the most likely envoy to represent Chen if the KMT continued to delay giving consent to Siew's participation a the meeting, which is scheduled for Nov. 15 and Nov. 16 in Brunei.

"[Perng] has been told to go in case Vincent declines to attend," the DPP legislator told the Taipei Times.

Sources inside the Presidential Office said Chen's envoy had to have special expertise in economics and finance and possess status domestically, as well as internationally.

The final confirmation over representation will come "within one or two days," sources said.

Critics said whether Siew could attend the meeting depends upon the future development of the recent standoff between the ruling DPP and the KMT.

"If the conflict between the DPP and the KMT shows any sign of mitigation, then perhaps Siew can still attend," observed Joseph Wu, a political analyst at the National Chengchi University.

Wu also criticized the KMT's linking the APEC representation issue with the party's recent row with the DPP-led government.

KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) had initially given the nod to the arrangement after the summit's host, Brunei, confirmed that Siew was welcome to represent Chen at the meeting.

But following the Cabinet's controversial announcement on Oct. 27 that the government had decided to scrap the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant (核四廠), Lien announced a delay in the KMT's approval of Siew's going to the APEC summit, a move that Chen criticized.

Even following Chen's televised apology to Lien on Sunday in an effort to quell growing dissatisfaction with his administration, the KMT gave no sign of relenting.

"The ball is still in the KMT's court," admitted Andrew Hsia (夏立言), director general of the foreign ministry's Department of International Organizations.

"If the KMT said it disapproved of Siew's representation, then the president could find someone else. But the claim that the KMT had `temporarily delayed discussion of the issue' creates the impression that Chen still has a chance [of getting the KMT's approval]," Hsia added.

Hsia, Taiwan's representative to attend APEC's informal senior officials meetings scheduled for Friday and Saturday, said he hoped the issue would be finalized before he heads for Brunei tomorrow.

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