Amid media reports that he might quit the Cabinet, Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) yesterday clarified what he called “rumors,” saying he has never thought of resigning and has never tendered his resignation since taking office in February.
Jiang said he does not plan to quit, although he acknowledged there were some difficult challenges facing the Cabinet.
“There have been many rumors that are not true. Do not take them seriously,” Jiang said. “I have a lot on my plate — what we care most about is revitalizing the economy and bolstering the six emerging industries [key strategic industries for development].”
Jiang was responding to a report in the Chinese-language Apple Daily yesterday that said he had twice submitted resignation letters since becoming premier.
A report in the Chinese-language Commercial Times also said he has been thinking about resigning.
Asked whether he thought the rumors had been deliberately spread to hurt him amid the fierce competition among potential candidates wanting to represent the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) in next year’s seven-in-one local elections, Jiang declined to comment.
The newspaper stories came as Jiang began a two-day trip to Taitung and Hualien counties that he said was aimed at boosting tourism and promoting the cultural and creative industry, both of which are on the list of six emerging industries.
Too much time has been wasted in Taiwan discussing “unnecessary interpersonal relationships” and rumors, Jiang said, adding that he would rather see the time spent discussing policies to boost the country’s political, economic and social development.
There was also not going to be a huge reshuffle in the Cabinet, although some Cabinet members are to return to academia after their leave of absences from their universities to work for the government expire, he said.
Jiang said both he and President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) keep a close watch over the performance of Cabinet members and will make adjustments when necessary.
The Apple Daily said Jiang first offered to resign early last month when Ma ordered the Executive Yuan to invoke the constitutional right for the legislature to nullify a controversial amendment to the Accounting Act (會計法) that the legislature passed just before its regular session ended.
There was a huge public outcry for the government to address what was seen as a major flaw in the amendment — that it would decriminalize the misuse of public funds by elected officials, but academics and researchers involved in irregularities related to the use and reimbursement of public money could still face prosecution. Jiang maintained that academics would not be exempted from decriminalization because of a “typographical error” in the amendment.
The Apple Daily said Jiang offered to resign a second time after he said he was willing to risk his job to defend the idea that a family income threshold for free tuition should be set under the government’s 12-year education proposal.
Some Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers had planned to initiate a vote of no confidence against Jiang as they were unhappy that Ma had not kept his promise to make education free for everyone because of Jiang’s insistence on a threshold, the paper said.
Jiang’s denials did little to quash the rumors that he would resign.
The Chinese-language United Daily Evening News yesterday quoted KMT officials saying they have heard such rumors within the party. The party officials also said that some KMT lawmakers might not vote to push the proposed referendum on the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Gongliao District (貢寮) if the legislature holds a second extra session as the Executive Yuan as the KMT has wished, the newspaper reported.
However, Jiang said the Executive Yuan “remains steadfast” that the fate of the power plant be determined by a referendum.
He said he had not heard that KMT lawmakers might try to thwart the proposed referendum, adding that he hoped lawmakers would not boycott the proposed second extra session so the referendum motion could clear the legislature as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, Presidential Office spokesperson Lee Chia-fei (李佳霏) said the office has no knowledge of any potential Cabinet reshuffle.
Additional reporting by Mo Yan-chih