Fri, Jul 12, 2002 - Page 3 News List

Opposition parties wonder out loud, `What is the president really up to?'

By Stephanie Low  /  STAFF REPORTER

The KMT and PFP yesterday brushed aside President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) proposal to meet with party leaders to discuss constitutional reform.

Both parties said they remained confused about Chen and have no idea what he's up to.

Kuo Su-chun (郭素春), a KMT spokeswoman, pointed out that after attacking the opposition during his African visit, Chen is now changing his tone and inviting them to a meeting.

"We don't know how we should deal with a national leader who is so changeable. Most importantly, we don't know if he means what he says," Kuo said.

Kuo criticized Chen for always "holding a sword with one hand and a Bible with the other hand."

"When Chen says he wants to negotiate with the opposition parties, we have no idea which hand he is reaching out with," Kuo said.

Chen, on his way back from his African trip on Wednesday, said he would not give up on holding a summit with KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜).

Chen said constitutional reform could be put on the agenda of the summit, with several issues open to discussion including the possibilities of setting an absolute-majority threshold for the presidential election and restoring lawmakers' right of confirmation in the appointment of a premier.

PFP Vice Chairman Chang Chao-hsiung (張昭雄) said that he thought the most serious constitutional problem is that of unchecked presidential power.

Chang said that if Chen intended to discuss that problem with opposition leaders, they would be willing to accept the invitation.

But if Chen intended to talk about "some other unnecessary issues," there would be no need to hold a summit, Chang said.

PFP Spokesman Hsieh Kung-ping (謝公秉) said that the most urgent matter for Chen right now would be for him to determine his policy orientation, because the DPP government has been inept, both in terms of national policy and its interaction with opposition parties.

Officials from the Presidential Office yesterday urged the opposition parties to look at Chen's invitation positively for the sake of political stability.

Presidential Office Spokesman James Huang (黃志芳) said Chen's remarks Wednesday were intended to sincerity express his wish to meet with opposition leaders and discuss with them any issues.

A top presidential aide, who declined to be named, said Chen has made a major concession by offering to negotiate with the opposition about changing the presidential election system and the power of confirmation on the appointment of the premier, as these are exactly the issues that the opposition parties are interested in.

He added that the president's main goal of is to seek reconciliation with the opposition.

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