Fri, Jan 28, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Blue camp lawmaker spurns post

NO DEAL The new premier named members of his Cabinet yesterday, but failed in an attempt to curry favor with the KMT when a legislator said no

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Premier-designate Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) yesterday said he had asked Deputy Legislative Speaker Chiang Pin-kun (江丙坤) to serve as his deputy, but Chiang had rejected the offer.

"I invited Chinese Nationalist Party [KMT] Vice Chairman Chiang to join my Cabinet and serve as vice premier, but Chiang said he was not interested in the position because of the state of his health," Hsieh said.

KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) has asked Chen to hand over the power to form the Cabinet to the pan-blue camp because the opposition alliance had retained its majority in the legislature.

Lien had also suggested that Chiang, former chairman of the Council for Economic Planning and Development and a former minister of economic affairs, should be the new premier and so boost the nation's economy.

Commenting on Chiang's apparent rejection of the deal, Lien yesterday said KMT members would not join Hsieh's Cabinet.

"Our principle is to form the Cabinet by the party, not by individual party members," Lien said.

"The DPP has tried to lure KMT members in an attempt to divide the party. We do not agree that individual KMT members should take Cabinet position," Lien added. "This violates party politics."

In selecting the new Cabinet, Hsieh is thought to be leaving space for members of the opposition alliance in a bid for reconciliation with the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) yesterday confirmed that Hsieh had mentioned the approach to Chiang. Wang and Hsieh met yesterday as they saw President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) off at CKS International Airport on his tour of Palau and the Solomon Islands.

Wang said that Chiang refused the offer because of his health, but also said that the KMT had not been consulted over the offer.

Chiang's office, however, yesterday said it was not aware that Hsieh had made the offer.

"We never heard about that," an office spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, Hsieh named Deputy Minister of Justice Morley Shih (施茂林) as the next justice minister.

Hsieh also named Presidential Office Deputy Secretary-General Cho Jung-tai (卓榮泰) as Cabinet spokesman and minister without portfolio.

Minister of the Interior Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) and Council of Labor Affairs Chairwoman Chen Chu (陳菊) will retain their posts.

When asked by reporters whether DPP Deputy Secretary-General Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) had asked to be the Cabinet secretary-general, as reported yesterday by a local newspaper, Hsieh he had no knowledge of the matter.

"Shih is an experienced head of a prosecutor's office and has a very good reputation among prosecutors," Hsieh said.

Shih, 58, formerly headed the Taipei District Prosecutor's Office. He was appointed vice minister of justice in November.

Shih will be the second prosecutor to head the ministry. Like Hsieh and Chen, Shih is a graduate of National Taiwan University's College of Law.

Cho, 49, is a former legislator and the director of the DPP's department of social development. Cho and Hsieh are thought to have a close political relationship.

"We have ideas in common, and Cho will be able to express my ideas and policies very capably," Hsieh said yesterday.

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