Some statements of support yesterday offset growing discontent among Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators about the appointment of former Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) legislator Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) as chair of the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC).
KMT Legislator Lee Chia-chin (李嘉進) yesterday urged president-elect Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to back down from his decision to appoint Lai.
Asked for comment, Lee said many Taiwanese businesspeople based in China had called him and threatened to boycott Ma’s inauguration ceremony this month.
“Ms Lai’s nomination is not an ordinary one and its impact should not be underestimated,” Lee said.
KMT Legislator Chiu Yi (邱毅) said Lai would have to step down and Ma would have to apologize to the public for the “wrong appointment” if his plans to open weekend cross-strait charter flights in early July and increase the number of Chinese tourists were compromised as a result.
“Everyone is worried about China’s reaction to Lai’s nomination as the chairwoman,” KMT Legislator Hsu Shao-ping (徐少萍) said when approached for comment.
“Ms Lai should reject the nomination because she is unacceptable to the pan-blue camp,” Hsu said.
However, acting KMT caucus secretary-general Hsieh Kuo-liang (謝國樑) threw his support behind Ma, saying that Lai should be allowed to take up the post.
Hsieh invited Lai to explain her position on cross-strait issues to caucus members in a bid to prevent the controversy from escalating.
Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) of the KMT also expressed support for Ma’s decision.
“I respect the authority of Mr Ma and premier-designate Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) to appoint personnel,” Hau said. “We should believe in Mr Ma, since there must be some strategic considerations behind the appointment ... and he must be confident in implementing his policies.”
Taipei County Commissioner Chou Hsi-wei (周錫瑋), also a KMT member, said Ma should not be influenced by the TSU when dealing with cross-strait policies, as Ma “has already been elected president.”
“Mr Ma has won the support of more than 7 million voters, which empowers him to set cross-strait policy,” Chou said. “He should not seek a compromise with the TSU.”
In response, Ma spokesman Lo Chih-chiang (羅智強) said yesterday that Lai should be given a chance to prove her ability to execute Ma’s cross-strait policies.
Lo said Ma’s cross-strait policies had not changed, and that the public should trust the president-elect’s choice of Lai as the MAC chairwoman.
Rejecting recent speculation in the Chinese-language media about whether Lai’s appointment would have a negative impact on cross-strait relations, Lo described the reports as “presumptuous.”
It was only to be expected that some appointments would give rise to divergent responses, Lo said.
“Mr Ma will take opinions from all sides into consideration,” he said.
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), meanwhile, was keeping its distance and said it would watch developments surrounding Lai’s appointment.
DPP legislative caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said at the party’s Central Standing Committee meeting yesterday afternoon that the DPP had reached a consensus that it would refrain from criticizing Lai or her appointment.
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In a show of strength, Lai and Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) chairman-designate Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) last night appeared together for the first time.