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Sat, Oct 07, 2000 - Page 3 News List

Chen scrambles to explain `rock' reference

TRIPPING UP The president told indignant opposition members his reference to rocks on his `bumpy track' was directed at dissent in the DPP and not at Tang Fei

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Coming under heavy fire from opposition parties for saying Thursday that his administration has "removed the rocks from our track," President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday asserted that the remark referred to "internal disagreement within the DPP" rather than to any particular person.

"It was a reference to the DPP, which, although it is the ruling party, has been so vocal and fulsome in its criticism of the new government during the past four months, that it has obstructed the new government's development," said Chen as he inspected an industrial park in Changhua County.

Chen said that the public should not associate his remark with the Cabinet reshuffle that followed the resignation of former premier Tang Fei (唐飛). He said that the DPP shouldered the lion's share of responsibility for the smooth running of the government.

On Thursday Chen said, "We recognize that the government had problems during the past four and a half months, just like a train which is jolted because the track is bumpy, but we have removed the rocks from our track ... The train has been repaired and can now get back on the track."

Opposition parties immediately complained that Chen's remarks were an insult to Tang Fei, who resigned as premier on Tuesday night, saying that the president's "improper comments" had revealed his "blunt character."

A Presidential Office official told the media on Thursday night that the word "rocks" was a symbol for issues, including the "old bureaucracy."

People First Party (PFP) lawmakers, however, still said yesterday that Chen was dishonorable, saying "Tang was not the rock, although some Cabinet members might be considered small rocks."

"And if Chen did not realize what people really expect, then he is the big rock obstructing our country's economic development," said PFP legislative caucus leader Chen Chao-jung (陳朝容).

KMT lawmaker Chen Horng-chi (陳鴻基) said that he was confused by the president's remarks. "It made me feel that Chen is an ungrateful politician who abandoned Tang and even kicked him as he left."

Meanwhile, DPP Chairman Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) echoed the president's sentiments yesterday, saying that "since the DPP's Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄) had succeeded to the premiership, all members of the party should realize the importance of being very careful about speaking as one," Hsieh said.

Leaders of the DPP's New Tide faction (新潮流系) said the party would engage in self-reflection and, henceforth, support the government. Members of the New Tide faction have often been critical of the Chen administration.

"Some DPP factions have had different ideas from President Chen in the past months. But now the DPP should be completely as one with the government," said DPP lawmaker Lee Wen-chung (李文忠). "And if the president has pointed the finger at us, we accept this and will reflect on the situation."

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