An opposition lawmaker ridiculed President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday for issuing what he saw as an improper statement regarding the possible reassignment of the top US representative to Taiwan.
The reaction was triggered by a Washington Times article on Monday which stated that "Mr. Chen upstaged Mr. Bush by telling reporters in Taiwan that Raymond Burghardt, a career diplomat, will soon become the US ambassador to Vietnam."
At a press conference yesterday, People First Party (PFP) legislator Chou Hsi-wei (周錫瑋) said "Chen has made a laughingstock of himself before the international community, as it is not our business regarding the representative's new appointment."
The article, which appeared in the paper's "Embassy Row" section, said "the White House would not comment, but Embassy Row has learned that an announcement on Mr. Burghardt is expected soon."
Burghardt declined to make any comment on the Washington Times story, saying: "It's a fun article."
He also said it's up to the White House to announce his next job, adding: "When I am told to go somewhere else, then I'll pack out and leave."
Burghardt made the statements at Taipei's Sungshan Airport yesterday afternoon before welcoming US House Representative Henry Hyde, chairman of the US House International Relations Committee.
Chen made the statement on Monday after he granted a medal of honor to Burghardt to thank him for helping to strengthen US-Taiwan relations.
The media have speculated for months that Burghardt would take the job in Hanoi, replacing Pete Peterson. Burghardt worked in Vietnam from 1969 to 1971 and gets on well with the Vietnamese, Burghardt said in July.