Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said yesterday that a leading pan-blue figure would be selected to head a new Cabinet, but the president denied making any such promise.
Ma said that the president intends to ask Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (
Ma said that the matter would require party-to-party talks and that he is happy to discuss the issue with President Chen Shui-bian (
"We acknowledge the president's intention to cooperate with the opposition parties in this regard, but any cooperation between the two parties requires negotiations," Ma said.
Other pan-blue parties, such as the People First Party (PFP) and the New Party (NP), must attend the negotiations as well, Ma said.
"The ideal situation is to first discuss the cooperation system and principle," Ma said. "The agreement must be written down in black-and-white before proceeding to talk about personnel deployment."
Not so fast
After Ma's comments, however, Chen issued a press release saying that during the meeting with Wang on Saturday, he did not invite the legislative speaker to form a new Cabinet.
In the press release, Chen said he hopes everyone will work together to enhance cooperation among political parties and to urge reconciliation between the governing and opposition parties.
Chen also said in the release that to seek political stabilization and harmony, he is sincere about meeting with Ma to exchange opinions about forming a new Cabinet collaboratively.
Ma's remarks yesterday afternoon came after talking with Wang by telephone in the morning. Ma said that Wang told him that the president intends to cooperate with the opposition parties in a bid to break the political deadlock.
In the afternoon, Wang told reporters that the president received him on Saturday and asked him about his opinions on how to cooperate with opposition parties in terms of government bills and Cabinet reorganization.
Wang said that the president did not ask him to head the government and that he is just one of the president's many potential choices.
"The president has several options at hand, including retaining Premier Frank Hsieh (
Since the DPP's resounding defeat in the Dec. 3 elections, speculation has mounted that a Cabinet reshuffle may follow, with pan-blue heavyweights being invited to take up posts, including the possibility that Wang or Ma could replace Hsieh as premier.
But Ma has dismissed the idea of a "coalition Cabinet" as "meaningless," and brushed aside speculation that he would head such a Cabinet, if it were formed.
Commenting on the prospect of Wang's leading the DPP government, DPP Legislator Ker Chien-ming (
"I personally have not heard of such a thing that the president has asked Wang to lead the government," Ker said. "However, if the public is in favor of the idea, it is not impossible for Wang to head the administration, and I'm afraid it's not something that Ma can stop."