Tue, Sep 08, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Liu resigns, Wu Den-yih to replace him

SHUFFLING OFF STAGE The premier said someone needed to take political responsibility for the loss of lives during Morakot, while the DPP criticized his successor

By Flora Wang and Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Premier Liu Chao-shiuan leaves the podium after announcing his resignation during a press conference in Taipei yesterday.

PHOTO: PATRICK LIN, AFP

Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) took everyone by surprise yesterday afternoon by announcing that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) had accepted his resignation.

Liu will lead the Cabinet in resigning during the Executive Yuan’s weekly meeting on Thursday, Liu told a 4:30pm press conference.

Shortly after his announcement, the Presidential Office said Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Secretary-General and Vice Chairman Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) would replace Liu, while Taoyuan County Commissioner and KMT Vice Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫) would become vice premier.

“So many people died [in the aftermath of Typhoon Morakot]. I believe someone should shoulder the political responsibility,” Liu said.

“As premier, I should take full responsibility, so I tendered my resignation in the middle of August,” he said.

Liu said Ma wanted him to stay on, but he was determined to step down, adding that he had only agreed to stay on temporarily to preside over the beginning of reconstruction work.

Liu said that between 80 percent and 90 percent of Morakot victims had received stipends from the government, while 92 percent had been temporarily relocated to military camps or government dormitories.

The legislature also passed the Post-Typhoon Morakot Reconstruction Special Act (莫拉克颱風災後重建特別條例) and the Executive Yuan has submitted the related budget request to the legislature, Liu said.

“I have completed my mission for now. It’s time for me to leave,” Liu said.

“As the highest-ranking government official in the nation, I should shoulder all political responsibility, so I tendered my resignation again. The president finally approved it,” he said.

Ma had supported him and they discussed the matter until late last night, he said.

Liu also apologized to Ma and the public for the performance of the Executive Yuan during the disaster.

“Many things should have been done better,” he said.

He thanked Ma, Cabinet officials, the various civic groups involved in disaster relief efforts and religious leaders.

“God bless the Republic of China. God bless the Taiwanese people,” Liu said.

Speaking shortly after Liu’s press conference, Presidential Office Spokesman Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) said Ma met Liu on Sunday night and thanked him for his contributions over the past year.

The president also told Wu and Chu that they did not have the choice of rejecting the offer to serve the nation at such a critical time, Wang said.

Ma would finalize the new Cabinet with Wu “in a few days,” Wang said.

Wang said Ma and Liu had agreed last month that Liu would take responsibility for the disaster early this month and that Liu again offered to resign on Saturday after he returned from Kaohsiung, where he had been staying with some Cabinet officials to gain first-hand information on the disaster situation and relief work.

Ma began to ask about Wu’s interest in the premiership last Thursday and Chu’s interest in the vice premiership on Friday, Wang said, adding that the final decision was the president’s alone. Asked whether their appointments were related to the year-end elections, Wang said both men were chosen for their abilities and extensive political experience.

Chu’s term as county commisser was scheduled to end in December, Wang said, while Wu has served as Nantou County commissioner and Kaohsiung mayor.

Wang also praised Wu’s experience in party and administrative affairs, adding that Wu and Ma were “old friends” who understood each other very well.

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