Tensions between President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) have become the center of attention as the nation prepares for the Double Ten National Day celebration, with the event organizer saying it has not made changes to seating arrangements or ceremonial procedures.
Deputy Minister of the Interior Hsiao Chia-chi (蕭家淇), who also serves as secretary-general of the National Day Celebration Organizing Committee, yesterday unveiled the details of the ceremony scheduled to take place in front of the Presidential Office on Thursday. He said that seating of the guests would be the same as in previous years, with Ma seated next to first lady Chow Mei-ching (周美青) and Wang seated next to Chow.
Wang, as the head of the celebration’s organizing committee, will preside over the opening ceremony at 9:24am on Thursday, and enter the Presidential Office to accompany Ma to the ceremony at 10:30am.
The president will make his Double Ten National Day address and watch the celebration program. Both Ma and Wang will stay until the ceremony is over at 11:40am, Hsiao said.
“We have followed previous conventions in the seating arrangement and ceremony procedures. There are no special considerations or exceptions,” he told a press conference at the Ministry of the Interior.
Wang, who was scheduled to preside over the press conference, did not show up, much to the disappointment of reporters who were waiting to ask him about his “inevitable” meeting with the president.
Ma and Wang have not seen each other since the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) revoked Wang’s party membership earlier this month over allegations of improper lobbying.
The problematic relations between Ma and Wang have raised concern about a widening political rift. While the two will likely meet on Thursday, speculation about a plan by the Ma administration to “eliminate Wang” continues.
The Presidential Office yesterday dismissed the latest rumors that the Ma administration has arranged fewer meetings between Wang and foreign guests during the Double Ten National Day celebration.
Presidential Office spokesperson Li Chia-fei (李佳霏) said the whole ceremony, including meetings and banquets with foreign guests, were planned by the preparatory committee and there were no special arrangements.
Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lin (林永樂) also denied that the ministry has purposely excluded Wang when it arranged itineraries for guests.
Lin said the ministry has informed Wang’s office of the five highest-level delegations, led by Paluan President Tommy Remengesau, Solomon Islands Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo, Gambian Vice President Isatou Njie-Saidy, Burkina Faso National Assembly Speaker Soungalo Apollinaire Ouattara and Nicaraguan Minister of Foreign Affairs Samuel Santos Lopez.
The ministry has followed the rules of diplomatic etiquette when it arranged the guests’ itineraries, which were no different from past practice, Lin said.
“We are respectful of Speaker Wang who leads the legislature as well as the National Day Celebration Organizing Committee,” Lin said.
However, a delegation from Japan would have missed meeting Wang if Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lee Hung-chun (李鴻鈞) had not spoken up.
Lee told the Taipei Times yesterday that he did not know why the ministry asked him to receive the delegation led by Takeaki Matsumoto, a member of House of Representative of Japan and former foreign minister, on behalf of the legislature when he knew that Wang was expecting to meet with Matsumoto.
Lee said he then suggested that the ministry set up a meeting between Wang and Matsumoto because he felt it would have been impolite if he had acted as Wang’s representative in receiving Matsumoto.
Wang , in response to media queries, downplayed the issue.
“It’s unlikely that it would go that far as not to [have visiting foreign dignitaries meet me,]” Wang said.
“It’s OK. I will host receptions for the delegations led by speakers from Colombia and Burkina Faso, the delegation from the Japan-ROC Diet Members’ Consultative Counci, and a delegation from South Korea,” Wang added.
The Double Ten Day celebration will start at 9:24am with a performance by the Joint Military Marching Band and the Armed Forces Honor Guard. A children’s choir from Nantou County’s Sinyi Township (信義) will lead the audience in singing the national anthem at the ceremony, followed by a speech by Ma.
Among the six leaders of political parties invited to the ceremony, former KMT chairman Wu Po-hsiung (吳伯雄) and New Party Chairman Yok Mu-ming (郁慕明) will attend the ceremony, Hsiao said.
A 42-minute fireworks display will be held at Hsinchu Harbor in Hsinchu City at 7pm.
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