Thu, Sep 14, 2006 - Page 1 News List

No Wang-for-Su deal: Presidential Office

NO EXCHANGE Officials dismissed a report that the president plans to invite the legislative speaker to form a Cabinet next month to break the political deadlock

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

The Presidential Office yesterday rejected speculation that President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) was planning to replace Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) with Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) in a bid to put a stop to demands for Chen's resignation.

"We deeply regret seeing this false report in the newspaper," the Presidential Office said in a statement issued yesterday morning. "The president has a high regard for Premier Su and expressed his full support for the Executive Yuan's social security improvement plan and other government projects when the premier came to the Presidential Office to brief the president on the matter."

It was obvious to all that the executive branch has begun to make aggressive efforts to implement government policies, the statement said, and that the executive branch must not be affected by some media outlets whose aim was to divide the administration.

The statement was made in response to a report published yesterday in the Chinese-language China Times, with a headline that read "[Chen] figures to let Wang form Cabinet in late October."

The report quoted sources from the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) as saying that Chen had figured out a way to defuse the current political crisis by replacing Su with Wang and handing over all his power. The frontrunner for the new premier, the report said, would be Wang. By doing so, the report said that the pressure would fall on KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).

Incidentally, Chen yesterday said that the position of legislative speaker is the closest path to presidency during a meeting with foreign guests at the Presidential Office yesterday morning.

"There is a saying that the shortest way to the presidency is to be a parliamentarian," Chen told Honduras Legislative Speaker Roberto Micheletti Bain.

"But in your country, I find that the position of legislative speaker is the shortest way to presidency. I have great hopes for your political future," he said.

Wang also denied that Chen had ever given him a message that he would be appointed premier next month.

"I never heard of the matter," Wang said.

He publicly denied the report twice, as his first statement was interpreted by local TV news channels as saying that he has an inclination to form a Cabinet.

Wang said he had to make the truth clear "especially when the current political situation is so sensitive."

As for Chen's comment that being a legislative speaker is the shortest way to the presidency, Wang said that "I am not the one whom the president spoke of. Chen was referring to something often seen in Central and South America."

The report said that Chen intended to invite Wang, who enjoys a close relationship with the president and an allegedly frosty one with Ma, to form a Cabinet to promote interparty cooperation and break the current political deadlock.

Wang said he believed that no one would refuse to help reconcile the pan-blue and the pan-green camps if he had ability to do so.

Meanwhile, legislators across party lines yesterday expressed doubt about the possibility of Wang being invited to form a Cabinet next month.

"Chen's resignation and the Cabinet reshuffle are two different things. Having Chen stay in exchange for Wang replacing Su is not an acceptable option for the party," KMT caucus whip Tsai Chin-lung (蔡錦隆) said.

DPP Legislator Gao Jyh-peng (高志鵬) said he didn't see the necessity for either Chen or Su resigning as the pro-Chen rally, scheduled for Saturday to counter the sit-in rally staged to oust Chen, would change the political situation.

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