Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) caused a political stir yesterday when he announced his resignation, less than a week after failing to win the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) 2008 presidential election primary.
Su made the announcement at a press conference after his resignation was approved by President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).
Su said that in view of the fact that the president "will need a new lineup to deal with a changed situation during the last year of his tenure," he was willing to step aside to accommodate the changes.
"It is President Chen Shui-bian's last year in office. He will definitely need some room to make new personnel arrangements. I would love to cooperate and leave at this moment so the president can carry out his plan unhindered. I would like the chance to take a break anyway," Su said.
"Although I am leaving the premiership, my heart will always be with Taiwan," added Su, who is affectionately known by his supporters as the "light-bulb," because of his bald head.
After making his announcement, Su shook hands and exchanged hugs with members of his Cabinet.
It is customary for the entire Cabinet to resign once a premier offers his resignation. The new premier will then nominate his own Cabinet team.
Sources said that Su decided to resign on Thursday. Su then met the president on Friday to obtain his approval.
Following Su's announcement, President Chen held a press conference in the afternoon and said that Su had tendered his resignation for the sake of party unity.
"In a bid to promote harmony within the ruling party, he was willing to relinquish the premiership," Chen said, adding that he totally understood Su's reasons for leaving.
Chen credited Su for his leadership during last year's anti-Chen demonstrations led by former DPP chairman Shih Ming-teh (施明德) and the "financial storm" earlier this year resulting from the Rebar Group scandal.
"Although I don't want to let him go, I respect his decision," Chen said.
"Su gives weight to the bigger picture while disregarding his personal achievements and honor," Chen said. "Such wisdom and breadth of mind should be credited and respected by the people. All politicians should learn from him," he added.
Chen said Su's withdrawal from the DPP's presidential primary after he lost the party vote to former premier Frank Hsieh (
"He set a good example for the ruling party and won the admiration of the people," Chen said.
As for candidates to succeed Su, Chen said he would evaluate the situation and make a considered choice.
"For Taiwan's future, the people's happiness and the continuity of a government that upholds Taiwan's sovereignty, I have the responsibility to appoint a new premier and organize a new Cabinet within a short period of time," he said.
Asked by reporters for comment on yesterday's events, DPP Legislator Chai Trong-rong (
Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) said he had been informed of Su's decision three days ago.
Wang, however, dismissed reports that the Presidential Office had consulted him on who should be the next premier.
Additional reporting by agencies
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