Tue, Jan 03, 2006 - Page 1 News List

President's speech divides his Cabinet

RASHOMON EFFECT Cabinet members had differing views on what the president said on New Year's Day, and whether cross-strait policy would be 'tightened' or not

By Ko Shu-ling and Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Premier Frank Hsieh, left, is welcomed by members of the Cabinet as he takes part in a service to celebrate the arrival of spring yesterday.


The government appeared to be at a loss yesterday when trying to explain how the president's New Year's speech would be translated into policy, with Cabinet officials offering contradictory remarks and some denying that any policies would be changed.

For example, a Cabinet spokesman yesterday denied that the government was tightening cross-strait economic policies, while the premier warned that companies wanting to invest in China would face mandatory audits in the future.

"The extent and scope of further opening-up of cross-strait economic policy hinges on whether the government has a concrete and efficient management plan, and how well it is implemented," Cabinet Spokesman Cho Jung-tai (卓榮泰) said. "There is no such a thing as tightening or relaxing cross-strait economic policy, because we can always talk about further opening-up if it is carried out well."

Cho made the remark in response to President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) New Year address, in which Chen said that cross-strait economic policy would be changed to "active management, effective opening" to lower the risks of allowing more investment in China.

As for cross-strait schemes already in the planning process, such as charter flight services for the Lunar New Year, Cho said that they would not be affected by the new cross-strait economic policy.

Other Cabinet members were able to speak only in general terms about the issue.

Minister of Economic Affairs Ho Mei-yueh (何美玥) said she did not think the president's speech meant restricting cross-strait economic policies, but that it pointed out a clearer direction.

The biggest difference between the old strategy of "active opening, effective management" and the new policy of "active management, effective opening," Ho said, is that the government will take national interests into consideration, rather than the interests of a particular company or sector.

Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), however, had more concrete plans for carrying out the new policy.

During comments to the media about the president's speech, Hsieh said that one of the things the government was considering was requiring audits of companies that invested in China.

While the president's speech had been construed by some as a sign of increased political confrontation, Hsieh yesterday called on politicians to refrain from engaging in feuds.

Hsieh said that a recent opinion poll revealed that most people find politicians abhorrent, and were put in the same category as gangsters.

"The result of vicious feuding is to get oneself destroyed," he said. "Like a tragic hero, one gets destroyed like a suicide bomber."

"Political fighting is foolish and will only result in self-destruction," Hsieh said. "Some people think that everything about China is good and everything about Taiwan is bad and wrong ... My theory is that whatever has happened, is going to happen or cannot be stopped is good."

Hsieh also said he was confident that economic development for this year will be better than last year.

He called on the public to have faith in the government.

Meanwhile, Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Chairman Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) also made comments clarifying the president's speech.

Wu yesterday blasted back at pan-blue camp legislators for their critique of President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) New Year's address, saying that 57.8 percent of the public supports tightening cross-strait policy.

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