Sat, May 24, 2003 - Page 1 News List

KMT's Siew to head Chen's panel

JOINING FORCES The vice chairman of the opposition party agreed to lead a special advisory panel to find ways to deal with the economic fallout from the SARS outbreak

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian speaks to leaders of local industrial groups and think-tank experts yesterday. Premier Yu Shyi-kun, left, Vice President Annette Lu, second left, and KMT Vice Chairman Vincent Siew, right, attended the meeting.

PHOTO COURTESY OF THE PRESIDENTIAL OFFICE

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday announced he was setting up a special economic advisory panel to handle the economic fallout from the SARS outbreak. The panel will he led by KMT Vice Chairman Vincent Siew (蕭萬長).

Chen made the announcement after meeting with senior executives from six major local industry and commercial associations and three economic think tanks to discuss the possible impact of SARS on the economy.

"We must consider the losses and threats presented by the spread of SARS on the entire industrial and business sector and study short, medium and long-term measures to cope with it," Chen said at the start of the meeting.

With world economic activity slowing and Taiwan's economy straining under the effects of the SARS outbreak, Chen said he decided to create the "Presidential Economic Advisory Panel" and accepted the recommendation of the business leaders that Siew should be its convener.

Chen said that Siew would invite academics, industrial advisors and other professionals to join the team during the next two weeks.

"I completely support President Chen's attempts to revive the economy and it is my honor and pleasure to serve as his personal advisor," Siew said.

The panel will advise the Executive Yuan on various public construction projects, such as a mass transit system for CKS International Airport, and on how to handle the shortage of government funds available to help revive the economy.

Siew, in his role as the chairman of the Chung Hua Institution for Economic Research, was invited to address the meeting on "New Policies for the Recreation of Taiwan's Economy."

Chen said Siew had many good ideas.

"I agreed with Chairman Siew's proposal to hold a world `high-tech fair' in 2008 and after the fair, the location will become an R&D park for international high-tech companies," Chen said.

He also promised to study and implement the "Asia-Pacific Operation Center Plan" proposed by Siew when he was a premier.

Chen asked government agencies including the Mainland Affairs Council to study a plan to allow direct cross-strait freight transportation.

Siew said in his report that the government had worked hard to boost the economy but that there was a gap between the effectiveness of the administration and expectations of the public.

He said the government should look to the New Deal of US president Franklin Roosevelt as a model of what should be done to revive the economy.

Siew was the vice presidential candidate when KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) ran for president in the 2000 election, but he has always maintained a good relationship with Chen.

In response to rumors he was a possible running mate for Chen in next year's presidential election, Siew said it was a ridiculous and impossible suggestion.

"I am retired. It is impossible for me to serve as a government official. I will no longer run for any elections," he said.

The KMT said that it hoped the DPP government would respect Siew's experience and suggestions and not just use him for political gains.

"As the leader of a civil research institute, [Siew] is responsible enough to make proposals," Lien said.

Leaders of the commercial and industrial communities hailed the formation of the panel and expressed confidence that it will be useful in boosting the economy.

Day Sheng-tong (戴勝通), chairman of the ROC Small and Medium Business Association, said that the panel had functions beyond those of government agencies.

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