Fri, May 07, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Joseph Wu to take over helm at MAC

APPOINTMENTS Analysts say Wu's promotion, together with Mark Chen's being named foreign minister, send a message to China that Taiwan isn't about to cave in

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH REUTERS

Presidential Office Deputy Secretary-General Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) will head the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) once the Cabinet is reshuffled.

The appointment comes after President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Premier Yu Shyi-kun failed to persuade MAC Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to stay.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chiu Tai-san (邱太三) will take up the No. 2 position at the council.

Wu told reporters after meeting with Yu yesterday afternoon that he will exert himself in his new job based on the foundation laid down by Tsai.

"I'll also do my best to communicate with lawmakers and to develop a sound relationship with the media," he said.

The meeting between Wu and the premier came one day after Chen asked Wu about his interest in the job.

Wu, 50, was appointed to his job at the Presidential Office in 2002.

He is a former teacher and research assistant in the political science department of Ohio State University. He also served as the deputy director of the Institute of International Relations at National Chengchi University, where colleagues said he wrote papers critical of Beijing.

Analysts said Wu's assignment, coming after Chen appointed former independence activist Mark Chen (陳唐山) as foreign minister, would send a strong message to China on Taiwan's sovereignty.

"With Mark Chen in the foreign ministry and Joseph Wu in the Mainland Affairs Council, this combination sends a very powerful message to the world," said Su Chi (蘇起), who was chairman of the MAC under the former KMT administration.

"Both are diehard pro-independence individuals," said Su, a close aide to KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰).

According to outgoing Cabinet Spokesman Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍), Yu tried on Tuesday morning to talk Tsai out of quitting.

"She told the premier that she'd like to take care of her sick mother and have more time to herself for reading and traveling," Lin said. "She also discussed cross-strait policies with the premier but she didn't recommend any candidate as her successor."

While Lin said Chiu's appointment has not been finalized, Wu told reporters yesterday afternoon that Chiu has accepted the position.

During a meeting with Yu on April 29, Chiu was promised a No. 2 position at either the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Economic Affairs, Mainland Affairs Council or the proposed Financial Supervisory Board.

Chiu, 48, was elected to the legislature in 1999 and is a former member of the National Assembly. He practiced law after obtaining a master's degree from National Taiwan University.

Lin yesterday dismissed speculation that Fan Yun (范雲), an assistant researcher at Academia Sinica's Institute of Sociology, has accepted the premier's offer to head the National Youth Commission.

"It's groundless speculation," Lin said. "The premier didn't contact Fan to discuss the matter, nor did she contact the premier to accept or decline the offer."

Lin said the premier had five candidates in mind but Fan was not one of them.

"It may take a while to find the most suitable person," Lin said.

Chen has pledged that the new head of the National Youth Commission will be "the youngest person in the Cabinet," and preferably a woman under 35.

Progress has not been made in the search for the two vacancies for ministers without portfolio.

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