Sat, Feb 19, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Wu Rong-i becomes vice premier

SECOND CHOICE The premier, who had wanted to put a top opposition official in the spot, said that he couldn't wait indefinitely for an answer from the KMT

By Jimmy Chuang and Jessie Ho , STAFF REPORTERS

Premier Frank Hsieh, right, shakes hands with Taiwan Institute of Economic Research President Wu Rong-i after appointing Wu as his vice premier.

PHOTO: SEAN CHAO, TAIPEI TIMES

Taiwan Institute of Economic Research (TIER) President Wu Rong-i (吳榮義) was sworn in yesterday as vice-premier, after Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) gave up his efforts to put a top Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) official in the post.

"I am quite confident that I will take advantage of my expertise in economic issues to provide my professional analysis, study and advice to help Premier Frank Hsieh," Wu said during a press conference at the Cabinet yesterday morning.

After Hsieh became premier on Jan. 25, he lobbied to have KMT lawmaker Chiang Pin-kun (江丙坤), who is also vice chairman of the party and former chairman of the Council for Economic Planning and Development, to become vice premier. However, KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) never gave his blessing to the appointment, and so Chiang did not give Hsieh an answer to his offer.

Hsieh said that he had considered Wu as a second choice for the spot, because his priority had been to try to get a member of the opposition camp to join the Cabinet.

"While I first spoke with Wu, I explained clearly to him that my priority was Chiang due to political concerns, and he understood and supported me for this arrangement," Hsieh said. "For that, I appreciate his understanding and would like to apologize to him for keeping him waiting and making him my second choice."

At the press conference, Hsieh said that he had opened the door to Chiang to join the Cabinet, but that he could not keep his team and the public waiting indefinitely.

Wu is a well-known supporter of former president Lee Teng-hui's (李登輝) "no haste, be patient" policy, which is cautious about Taiwanese investment in China.

Asked whether he will continue to urge local enterprises not to invest in or move their facilities to China, Wu said that he will merely provide his professional advice to his superiors.

Opposition parties were negative in their reaction to the news of Wu's appointment yesterday.

"Currently, I can't see how this appointment will have any effect on improving Taiwan's economy, because Wu Rong-i is conservative in his policy about investing in China," People First Party (PFP) legislative whip Liu Wen-hsiung (劉文雄) said yesterday.

"The KMT respects the wishes of the DPP and the premier," said Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislative caucus whip Huang Teh-fu (黃德福) yesterday. "What we care about the most is whether they will nominate capable individuals. But from past examples, we can see that even if talented individuals enter the Chen Shui-bian administration, under a such a willful leadership, those individuals will burn out."

Leaders of business groups, who have been urging that someone with a business background be named as vice premier, yesterday welcomed Wu's appointment, but also expressed regret that Chiang had not taken up the post.

"Wu is an appropriate pick for the position, considering his sophisticated management ability and insights into macroeconomic and industrial policies," Theodore Huang (黃茂雄), chairman of the Chinese National Association of Industry and Commerce (工商協進會), told reporters after a breakfast meeting with Hsieh and business leaders yesterday.

Although Wu has less political experience than Chiang, as president of the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research (台經院), Wu has long participated in major international economic events such as APEC summits, and as helped set industrial policy which make him a competent candidate for the post, Huang said.

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