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Thu, Jan 11, 2001 - Page 3 News List

Premier Chang facing pressure to step down

NUCLEAR PLANT Legislators say if the Council of Grand Justices rules against the Cabinet's scrapping of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, the premier should resign

By Lin Mei-chun  /  STAFF REPORTER

Premier Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄) is facing mounting pressure from lawmakers to step down should the Executive Yuan's decision to halt the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant (核四廠) be deemed unconstitutional by the judiciary.

"If the verdict made by the Council [of Grand Justices 大法官會議 ] says the decision was in violation of the Constitution, then the premier should demonstrate his sense of responsibility by resigning and the Cabinet should be reshuffled," DPP lawmaker Hsu Tain-tsair (許添財) said yesterday, adding that it was time for President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) to resolve the political standoff between the executive and legislative branches.

"Under the current political circumstances, it is difficult to normalize the relationship between the executive and legislative departments as Chang has been branded persona non grata by lawmakers ? The political impasse has to be resolved to facilitate the government's operation, and I think the time has come," Hsu said.

DPP lawmaker Shen Fu-hsiung (沈富雄), echoed Hsu, saying it might be a chance for the government to reverse its unfavorable situation if the council rules that the decision was in violation of the Constitution.

"[If the Council rules against the Cabinet's decision], it could be deemed a favorable turn for the government ? Chen could seize the chance to display his sincerity to the KMT by reshuffling the Cabinet and paying a visit to KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) to seek his advice," said Shen.

"Though the KMT might reject Chen's goodwill, it would be a good opportunity for Chen to pave the way for a possible coalition government after the legislative election this December."

Opposition members also shared this point of view.

KMT Legislator Chen Horng-chi (陳鴻基) said that if the ruling goes against the Cabinet, Chen should replace the premier and form a new Cabinet, particularly designed to cope with the financial slump, adding "the president should consult with Lien Chan concerning who would be the new premier."

"Chen should take the chance to express his friendliness to the opposition ? and I think the gesture would show the president's resolve to end the bitter political struggle as well as to enhance the public's confidence in the government," Chen Horng-chi said.

But, when asked if it would be an occasion to form a coalition government, which would entail a selection of Cabinet members through bipartisan negotiations, very few legislators were keen on the proposal.

"I don't consider it a pragmatic initiative at present because the opposition might not want to assume part of the responsibility for the ongoing political chaos with the ruling DPP, and it is very important for the DPP to prove itself a reliable government by shouldering all responsibilities alone," said Hsu.

Sharing Hsu's opinion, Chen Horng-chi said he would not favor the suggestion especially because with the legislative elections approaching, a coalition government wouldn't be advantageous for the KMT because of the present poor performance of the Cabinet.

In related news, the Council of Grand Justices, in a bid to expedite the ruling, yesterday held a provisional meeting to forge a consensus.

But Yang Jen-shau (楊仁壽), secretary-general of the Judicial Yuan, was tight-lipped when questioned about the ruling, saying only that he hoped the public would allow the Council space to ponder the issue.

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