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Sat, Jul 29, 2000 - Page 3 News List

Chang vows better links to legislature

IMPROVING RELATIONS The new vice premier says he hopes to start anew with the Legislative Yuan and improve coordination within the Executive Yuan

By Stephanie Low  /  STAFF REPORTER

Premier Tang Fei, right, talks to Vice Premier-designate Chang Chun-hsiung in the Legislative Yuan yesterday.

PHOTO: SUNG CHI-HSIUNG, LIBERTY TIMES.

Incoming Vice Premier Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄) said yesterday that improving the executive branch's relationship with the legislature and boosting team spirit among Cabinet members would be his top priority after assuming office.

Chang, currently secretary-general to the Presidential Office, said that the two areas have been the targets of public criticism since the new government was formed more than two months ago.

"We'll learn the lessons from the painful experiences and failures of the past to start anew," Chang said.

He said the Executive Yuan would better coordinate its financial policies, which have already gained a reputation for their inconsistency.

In addition, the Executive Yuan would strengthen its communication with lawmakers in order to win their support, Chang said.

Chang made the remarks while visiting the Legislative Yuan to meet lawmakers, the day after his appointment to the vice-premiership was announced.

During the visit, Chang met Legislative Yuan speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) and members of the DPP, the KMT, the People First Party, the New Party and independent caucuses.

Chang will take over the post left vacant by Yu Shyi-kun, who stepped down on Tuesday to take responsibility for last Saturday's Pachang Creek (八掌溪) tragedy.

Chang's credentials as a former legislator who is familiar with the workings of the Legislative Yuan are widely believed to be a major factor behind his appointment to the post.

Opposition lawmakers, however, were not optimistic about the prospects of improved relations between the legislature and the Cabinet, despite Chang's reputation as a skilled communicator.

"Structurally speaking, the DPP holds only one-third of the legislative seats, which is insufficient for it to secure dominance over the implementation of policy," said Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆), convener of the New Party caucus.

Lai said the search for a replacement for Yu would have been a good opportunity for President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) to form a coalition with the KMT, which controls the majority of seats in the legislature.

"It is regrettable that the Executive Yuan lost a chance to steady its power base," Lai said.

Chen Chao-jung (陳朝容), chief executive of the PFP caucus, said the biggest problem with the new government was that the DPP maintains an "antagonistic mentality," as though it were still an opposition party.

"President Chen even criticized lawmakers as a mouthpiece for the Chinese communists, creating tensions with the legislature," Chen said.

And the question of whether Premier Tang Fei (唐飛) enjoyed any independent power in choosing the vice premier was again raised by opposition lawmakers yesterday.

Because Tang had previously said he preferred a candidate with a strong background in finance, the appointment of someone with little financial experience was evidence that Chen is choosing the Cabinet's personnel -- and not Tang, the lawmakers argued.

"Chang's credentials are apparently inconsistent with those you claimed to seek," said New Party legislator Cheng Long-shui (鄭龍水) in his interpellation of Tang yesterday. "In other words, the Executive Yuan has suffered another defeat in the personnel fight [with the president]."

But Tang said Cheng's observation was incorrect. "I was picking the most suitable person to do the job. [Chang] was my own first choice," the premier said.

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