Wed, Jan 18, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Hsieh quits with a parting shot

DIFFERENT VIEWS?Hsieh, whose premiership was tarnished by a scandal with the MRT in Kaohsiung, where he was mayor, had bitter words for his boss

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH AGENCIES

Premier Frank Hsieh stands with a bouquet of flowers at the Executive Yuan yesterday after announcing that he and the Cabinet would resign next Monday.

PHOTO: LUO PEI-DER, TAIPEI TIMES

Embattled Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) yesterday said he would quit his post, citing differences of opinion with the Presidential Office.

He will lead the Cabinet in a mass resignation on Monday.

Hsieh cited the failure of the legislature to approve the 2006 budget as the reason for his departure, but also made pointed remarks about his relationship with the president.

"I firmly believe the foundation for reconciliation is to obtain power first and I am willing to bear the responsibility for the outcome of the [budget] request," Hsieh said. "However, it has failed to win the support [of the Presidential Office], which strengthens my determination to leave."

"While I don't have any advice for my successor, I have asked the president to let the new premier have more time to orient himself with the new position and stay on the job longer," he said.

Hsieh's tenure as premier was marked by a series of corruption scandals in the government, followed by an electoral defeat for his party.

The president accepted Hsieh's decision without protest.

"I have accepted his resignation. He has stepped down after accomplishing his mission," President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said during a visit to Kinmen yesterday.

Chen said he would appoint a replacement before Lunar New Year's Day.

"I would like to appoint a new premier as soon as possible to not only stabilize the political situation but also to ensure smooth government administration," he added.

Accompanied by Vice Premier Wu Rong-i (吳榮義), Cabinet Spokesman Cho Jung-tai (卓榮泰) and other Cabinet officials, Hsieh made public his resignation during a press conference yesterday morning.

Hsieh said that he had told the president not to arrange any new position for him, because he would like to take a break from politics. He said he would like to take up writing to try to explain his policies to the public.

Hsieh added that he would like to see his Cabinet members retain their jobs, because his departure had a lot to do with personality conflicts. However, he admitted that what happened to the Cabinet after his departure was not up to him.

Hsieh said he had offered to leave twice after last month's local government elections, but that his resignation was rejected by the president because former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) had stepped down to take the blame for the defeat.

Hsieh said he had proposed to the president that he should sit down and talk with the party's "four superstars" -- Su, Hsieh, Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) and DPP chairman-elect Yu Shyi-kun -- in a bid to coordinate their efforts.

"To be honest with you, the relationship between me and the others [Su, Lu and Yu] is more tense than [the relationship] between the president and I," Hsieh said.

The negotiation process, however, did not go well, Hsieh said. The party was busy with the DPP chairmanship election, while the government and legislature were tied up with the budget review.

With Yu elected as the new chairman and the budget review over, Hsieh said he broached the issue again and finally obtained the president's agreement.

After the president agreed to let him go on Monday night, Hsieh said he felt greatly relieved and that he had had a good night's sleep.

"I feel my burden has been lifted," Hsieh said.

Later, however, Hsieh sounded wistful when he said he would soon be jobless and that "being jobless is sometimes very undignified."

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