KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) yesterday said that President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) nomination of KMT Vice Chairman Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) as his economic advisor is improper, but added that he still hopes Chen will take heed of the former premier's advice.
"As the chairman of the Chung Hua Institution for Economic Research, the vice chairman is already well placed to offer economic advice to the president," Lien said. "Instead, the president chose to make other arrangements. Such political consideration is improper.
"However, I hope the president can take and enforce the vice chairman's advice sincerely," Lien said.
"Bluntly speaking, that means the president should follow him obediently and not make a fool of the vice chairman, who has made a great economic contribution to the nation," he said.
Last week, Siew accepted Chen's appointment to lead the newly established Presidential Economic Advisory Panel, which will offer the president advice on cross-strait economic exchanges.
The KMT yesterday discussed Siew's new assignment at its weekly Central Standing Committee meeting in a bid to find consensus over the nomination and avoid any political fallout.
Siew's new role has embarrassed the KMT.
Siew said in the meeting that he had been mulling the nomination long before he accepted it. He said he took the assignment because he doesn't want to see the economy fall deeper into despair.
"Since the people's interest largely depends on the economy, I will never hesitate to give advice on the nation's economy," Siew said. "I don't want to see our party take over an ailing economy after regaining power 2004."
Speculation is rife that Siew, seen by his party comrades as a long-time follower of former KMT chairman Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), has been left out of the party loop since Lee become an outspoken critic of the KMT.
Not wishing to further alienate Siew, KMT officials yesterday did not come down too hard on their vice chairman.
Chiang Ping-kun (江丙坤), another KMT vice chairman as well as a veteran economist, said all parties should fight for the nation's economy as if they were the party in charge.
Chiang said he believed Siew must have understood very well that Taiwan's economic problems are not merely caused by economic factors.
"Politics certainly influence the economy," Chiang said. "Policy stability and administrative enforcement are all crucial to upgrading Taiwan's economy."
Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄), also a vice chairman, said he hopes the speculation surrounding Siew's new appointment stops here.
"I believe Vice Chairman Siew did not mean to hurt our party," Wu said.
"Instead, we should keep a close eye on whether Chen will adopt Siew's advice," he said.