Despite Premier Yu Shyi-kun's recent efforts to prove that he is a sound executive officer, political observers said yesterday that Yu stands little chance of becoming President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) running mate in next year's presidential election.
"Taking into account various opinion polls that are not in Yu's favor, Yu's recent moves strike me as desperate effort to save his own ass should Chen win his re-election bid," said Ger Yeong-kuang (葛永光), a professor of political science at National Taiwan University.
In what was seen as an unusual move, Yu locked horns last Tuesday with PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜), who served as Taiwan provincial governor from 1993 and 1998, during his trip to the planned Makao national park in Yu's hometown of Ilan County.
Yu insinuated that Soong was better at grandstanding than doing things for the people.
"He's such a cunning politician that he knows exactly how to use the resources at his disposal to win over people's hearts and that's definitely not something I'm good at," Yu said.
As an example, Yu said that when Soong used to visit Ilan, he usually took the 10:55am train to get there, would inspect one public construction project and then take the 2:30pm train back to Taipei.
"While his visit made a splash in local newspapers and on TV, it was of little help to the county's actual welfare," Yu said.
In June, Yu expressed his disappointment at legislative delays that had reduced the number of bills passed by the legislature.
In the last session, the legislature passed only 17 of the 106 bills marked by the Cabinet as a priority, compared to the 136 approved in the first legislative session, 84 in the second session and 31 bills in the third.
Yu also blamed Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) for allowing the opposition to stall reform measures by using their numerical advantage in the legislature, criticism which irked Wang as well as opposition lawmakers and party leaders.
Soong painted Yu's comments as inappropriate and unconstitutional.
KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) said the remarks highlighted the DPP administration's ineptitude at governing.
The KMT called on Chen to replace Yu, saying the premier has demonized and challenged the legislature. The PFP accused Yu of blaming the Cabinet's incompetence on opposition parties.
Ger was pessimistic about both Yu and Vice President Annette Lu's (呂秀蓮)' chances of being Chen's running mate next year.
"It may seem that they get along well with each other, but they don't," Ger said. "It's highly unlikely that Chen would run with Lu again because Lu doesn't enjoy a high approval rating and Chen has to pick a successor who can represent the DPP in the 2008 election."
Ger predicted that the DPP may delay its nomination process as long as possible.
"It's to the DPP's advantage to delay the process because as long as Chen is just the president, he's entitled to maneuver administrative resources," he said. "When he becomes a candidate, other candidates will request equal treatment in terms of media coverage."
Emile Sheng (盛治仁), a political science professor at Soochow University, echoed Ger's view.
"I expect to see a backlash from Lu should Chen pick Yu as his running mate because Lu and Yu have long been at odds," Sheng said.
He also cast doubt on Chen's selecting Lu as his running mate.