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Thu, Sep 02, 1999 - Page 3 News List

Former justice minister blasts Premier Siew

By Lauren Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

Speaking on the second anniversary of Premier Vincent Siew's tenure, former justice minister Liao Cheng-hao (廖正豪) lashed out at what he said was a lack of achievements under Siew's Cabinet and vowed to boycott Siew's campaign to run as vice-president.

He also suggested Siew had been involved in pressuring the justice ministry into illegal phone taps and other skullduggery while he was justice minister.

"The KMT had plenty of opportunities to enforce a reform program [in the past two years], but when Vice President Lien Chan (連戰) announced Siew as his running mate, my hopes faded,'' Liao said, adding that it was unlikely he would throw his support behind any of the other candidates.

As the Lien-Siew ticket was finalized during the KMT congress last weekend, Liao flew to Japan on Aug. 27, missing the party congress altogether.

But yesterday, just one day after returning, Liao spent over an hour venting his discontent over Siew's running with Lien.

Liao said that in early August he even wrote a letter to Lien, outlining his concerns of Siew's candidacy.

"The vice presidency is a very important position, so I asked Lien to consider all the consequences. With Siew in the line-up, I can't see any way to push government reforms,'' said Liao.

Liao emphasized that his criticism was not based on personal interests, but on the principles of right and wrong.

"The drop in support for Lien in opinion polls since the announcement of the Lien-Siew ticket just proves that my concerns are valid,'' Liao said.

He also suggested Siew was involved in recent illegal wiretapping by the government and is associated with organized crime.

In an apparent reference to Siew, he said "someone" not only forced him to authorize an illegal wiretap while serving as justice minister, "but also falsely accused me of wiretapping, reporting this to my superior," he said.

"I will consider making the details public at the appropriate time before next March," he added.

He also pointed out that Siew had recently appeared together in Siew's home county of Chiayi along with the speaker of the Chiayi City Council, Hsiao Teng-wang (蕭登旺). Hsiao's younger brother, Hsiao Teng-piao (蕭登標), the speaker of Chiayi County Council, is currently under indictment on corruption charges and on the run from police. Ever since Siew appeared with the "Hsiao Family," speculation has abounded over his relations with the family.

Premier Siew dismissed such allegations as unfair.

"I am a native of Chiayi. How could I turn the `Hsiao family' down when they have stood behind me before? Besides, I have no contact with them now. I have no doubts about my moral integrity," he said.

Facing increasing resistance over Siew from former subordinates, Lien said yesterday: "Every day I have many things to deal with. I can't answer everyone's questions."

KMT lawmaker Chen Ming-wen (陳明文), a local faction leader in Chiayi County, urged party headquarters to resolve the situation as soon as possible.

"Since Liao stepped down from office last year, the government has turned a deaf ear to him, making Chiayi residents very disappointed," he said.

Chen added that if Liao continued to point the finger at Siew, it would eventually hurt the popularity of the Lien-Siew ticket.

"Liao's elder bother is a town chief, and his uncle is the executive director of the farmer's cooperative. Both are local opinion leaders with a major influence on local residents," said Chen.

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