Tue, Jul 06, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Lu, seeking popularity, is making enemies: analysts

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Vice President Annette Lu's (呂秀蓮) recent performance has been criticized as overstepping President Chen-shui's (陳水扁) authority in the hope of promoting herself as a possible candidate in the 2008 presidential election. But, critics say, she just has created needless disputes and interfered with the government's operations.

"Lu has been raising her voice more and more since the end of the presidential election," said Chin Heng-wei (金恆煒), editor-in-chief of Contemporary Monthly magazine. "She has advocated changing the official name of the country to `Taiwan, Republic of China;' proposed moving the capital to southern Taiwan; and now she is echoing the opposition alliance's attack on the government regarding the lack of progress in `seeking the truth' of the election-eve assassination attempt."

"All those issues just display how she has been ignoring the entire administration, and reveal her ambition of succeeding Chen in the presidency," Chin said.

The issue of whether to set up a committee to replace the government's special investigation task force, which was organized by the judiciary and the police, to speed up the effort to solve the March 19 asassination attempt has now become a theatre in which Lu can take center stage.

According to the Presidential Office, Chen is going to have a tea party with the heads of the government's five branches today, during which they will discuss whether to form a special committee to investigate the shooting.

However, the president's staff is angry that Lu seems to be trying to dominate the issue, and had even gone so far as to make erroneous statements about the president's idea to form a committee, thereby misleading the public and the media.

"The vice president is trying to tell the public that the establishment of a special committee was her idea," a close aide to the president said. "But this is far from the truth."

One senior official told the Taipei Times yesterday that Chen was very irritated after Lu made a phone call last month to a live TV show attacking the investigation's performance. During the show, she claimed she was authorized by the president to make those comments.

"The vice president has taken some `unexpected' action recently," the official said, "especially when it comes to talking about the gunshot incident."

"She criticized the secretary-general of the National Security Council for not `properly organizing' the press briefing [after the assassination atempt], then she claimed that she was the real target of the shooter. Then she even made a comment completely contradicting the task force's report, saying that she believes there were two shooters, while the task force said there was only one," the aide said.

Moreover, while Chen has put all his trust in the premier for taking charge of the post-typhoon relief efforts and has stayed away from the areas affected by the typhoon in order to not interfere with the government's rescue efforts, Lu still rushed to central Taiwan to inspect the condition of the disaster area and express her concern about the victims.

However, residents and the media both gave negative comments of her performance, which they described as "showing off too much."

"The vice president has no authority to allocate any government resources and is not allowed to conduct relief operations. Wherever she visited, she promised to `give anything,' but just made government officials, who should be spending their time conducting post-typhoon relief operations, put aside their work to accompany her," said Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Hung Chi-chang (洪奇昌).

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