Sun, May 25, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Chen scores major victory with Vincent Siew signing

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER

KMT Vice Chairman Vincent Siew is to head up a new presidential economic advisory panel.

TAIPEI TIMES FILE PHOTO

President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) decision to set up a new economic advisory panel headed by KMT Vice Chairman Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) is a shrewd tactical move, political observers say.

"The newly established presidential economic advisory panel clearly demonstrates Chen's dissatisfaction with the Cabinet's performance in dealing with economic problems," said Hu Wen-huen (胡文輝), a political columnist.

"Moreover, his success in persuading Vincent Siew to serve in his government finally shows that Chen, as he has been at hinting for years, has friends in the enemy camp," he said.

Hu said that the economy will be the most important issue of next year's presidential election campaign. However, the Cabinet has not made any progress on that issue since Chen announced economic revival as his No. 1 priority in January.

"Now the government faces an even tougher challenge in the shape of the SARS outbreak, which has heavily impacted the nation's industries," Hu said. "The Cabinet's poor performance in dealing with the epidemic has further eroded the president's confidence."

"Siew's appointment as the president's top economic consultant should be seen as a warning shot across Premier Yu Shyi-kun's bow," Hu added.

Hu said that Siew's effectiveness in helping Chen win the election next year remains unclear. However, he does believe that the appointment will have some knock-on effects.

"How will the panel operate? Will Siew take over the Cabinet's authority or just be a consultant mechanism? Will Chen replace Premier Yu with Siew?" Hu said. "These questions will cause more problems over the next few months."

Chin Heng-wei (金恆煒), editor-in-chief of Contemporary Monthly magazine, also said that Siew's appointment should be regarded as a tactical move rather than the answer to the country's economic problems.

"The main effect Siew's appointment has had already is that the KMT's attempt to draw a line between the pan-greens and the pan-blues has failed," Chin said.

"Siew's decision has shown that the KMT's stance not to allow its members to assist the government was not a wise move," he said.

Chen and former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) once said that the KMT will split due to its leaders' betrayal of Lee's localization policy, saying that since losing the presidential election in 2000, the party has refused to serve as a loyal opposition power but chose instead to boycott the government's policies.

Chen has also said that top KMT officials who disagree with their party leader will leave to assist the DPP.

However, DPP Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) said that Siew's abilities were revealed to be limited during his premiership.

"To expect an economic revival within one year because of one person's efforts is unrealistic," he said.

Tsai said that Siew's alliance with the DPP has also prompted the media to discuss further KMT losses to the DPP and the possibility that Siew will become Chen's running mate in next year's elections.

"Actually Siew is a marginal politician in the KMT," the DPP lawmaker said. "Chen may win a little bid of praise from the public by using Siew but he will not gain much support because of it in the presidential campaign."

"Another effect of enticing Siew to the DPP is that Chen can maintain the trust of major business leaders and depend on their support," Tsai said.

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