Mon, Jul 21, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Party colleagues question ability of KMT lawmaker to lead their caucus

HOT-HEADED Lee Chia-chin has endangered his chances of taking up the post of KMT caucus whip after a blow-up between himself and the legislative speaker

By Sandy Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

KMT Legislator Lee Chia-chin, right, accosts speaker Wang Jin-pyng during a special session two weeks ago.


When KMT Legislator Lee Chia-chin (李嘉進) snatched an adjournment announcement from KMT legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) during the recently-concluded special session, Lee not only attracted a great deal of media attention but also raised concerns that he might not be suitable to lead his party in the legislature.

Lee is slated to become the party's legislative caucus leader in the next session, which starts on Sept. 5.

Lee tried to prevent Wang from closing the special session before it had a chance to consider DPP Legislator Trong Chai's (蔡同榮) version of the referendum law, clearly angering Wang and prompting a brief tussle between the two.

The episode demonstrated what some see as Lee's impetuosity.

Expressing dissatisfaction over Lee's misconduct, KMT Legislator Chen Hung-chang (陳宏昌) last week threatened to withdraw from the party's legislative caucus if the KMT headquarters did not discipline Lee and prevent him becoming caucus whip.

"How could the party headquarters allow itself to sit idle while Lee is being so rude and disrespectful to Wang, who is not only the legislative speaker but also the party's vice chairman," said Chen, a member of the party's E-Generation Alliance, a pro-localization faction that supports former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝). Wang is seen as a leading member of the party's pro-localization faction.

Chen expressed concern about Lee Chia-chin's suitability as a party whip, who has to convey decisions and announcements made by the party's legislative caucus to the media and the public.

"If Lee continues to have such an impetuous manner, how could he perform well as a party whip in negotiating with other parties?" Chen said.

Sharing Chen's concerns, KMT Legislator Hsu Shu-po (許舒博) said that Lee was known for acting on impulse.

"I don't doubt his competence to do the job," Hsu said. "But Lee's impulsiveness is something he needs to look out for."

"As a party whip, his conduct and rhetoric will represent the party as a whole in the eyes of the public. Therefore Lee will have to be very cautious about what he does and says," Hsu said, adding that this was the advice Wang offered Lee when he apologized to the speaker for his conduct.

If Lee fails to change his ways as party whip, Hsu said, it would not only damage the public image of the KMT legislative caucus but would also affect KMT cooperation with the PFP for the presidential election next March.

The KMT and PFP decided in April to run a joint ticket with KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) as presidential candidate and PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) as his running mate.

"While some see the position of a party whip as the most powerful [in the caucus], the person in that position is actually the most vulnerable because he needs to be able to convey the decisions of the party legislative caucus to the public without expressing his own views," Hsu said.

In view of the important legislation, such as the referendum law, that will be discussed in the upcoming legislative session, Hsu advised Lee that he "needs to be respectful, modest and patient as he shoulders the responsibility of negotiating with other parties."

"Lee can't act too impulsively or focus on having the spotlight on himself as such acts will end up hurting the KMT caucus as a whole," Hsu said.

Lee, a second-term legislator, graduated with a degree in finance and taxation from National Chungshing University and later earned an MA in economics from the University of Tsukuba in Japan.

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