Mon, Jul 12, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Committee on shooting is risky for Fredrick Chien

LAST HURRAH?The president of the Control Yuan has spent a career building a reputation as a man who had a purpose, but now he's stepping into a maelstrom

By Debby Wu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Control Yuan President Fredrick Chien (錢復) is betting his career, and his reputation for having a sense of mission, on his decision to become chairman of the special committee investigating the March 19 assassination attempt that President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) has initiated.

Chien -- along with Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰), former Control Yuan president Chen Lu-an (陳履安) and former president of National Tsing Hua University Shen Chun-shan (沈君山) -- is one of the "four great princes" (四大公子) who started to exert political influence in the 1980s.

With Chen Lu-an and Shen having disappeared from the political scene in recent years, and Lien struggling to save his political career, Chien is alone among the "princes" in continuing to exercise a positive political influence and in enjoying respect from various camps.

When the public thinks of Chien, they usually think of him as a heavyweight diplomat because of his experience as representative to the US and minister of foreign affairs. But Chien has also served in other positions, including head of the Government Information Office, chairman of the Council for Economic Planning and Development, speaker of the National Assembly and now president of the Control Yuan.

In a rare interview given last year, Chien said that in 1990 former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) had offered him the position of premier.

`stubborn person'

"I said I did not have the capability to become premier because many legislators were interpellating the premier in [Hoklo, more commonly known as Taiwanese], and I could not understand Taiwanese 100 percent. If I needed someone to translate for me, it would have been a joke. So I turned the offer down," said Chien, a Mainlander.

Chien said that he and Lee argued for over two hours, which made Lee quite unhappy. But Chien did not give ground.

"I am quite a stubborn person," Chien said.

"Before I accept a position, I ask myself two questions: one, whether my taking the position would be helpful to the country; two, whether I would be capable of working in that position," Chien said.

Chien might have been too humble when he said he was incapable -- he has become a very seasoned politician over his long career in diplomacy.

When the US severed official diplomatic ties with Taiwan in 1978, Chien was vice minister of foreign affairs, and when China carried out missile tests in the Taiwan Strait in 1996 just as Taiwan was about to hold its first-ever direct presidential election, Chien was the minister of foreign affairs.

The administration of Chen Shui-bian has relied on Chien's diplomatic skills heavily: Chien has acted as Chen Shui-bian's special envoy to foreign countries several times, most notably to deliver condolences to the US over the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and to attend the funeral of former US president Ronald Reagan.

`strict'

Veteran KMT Legislator Hung Chao-nan (洪昭男), who served in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs under Chien, recalls Chien as a short-tempered but talented person.

Hung said Chien was strict with himself and with others, and that he was the kind who would scold subordinates in front of others.

"There was one time when he was visiting Europe and most of the Taiwanese officials had to take tranquilizers before they met Chien," Hung said.

"But he is a person with a sense of mission. He wants to contribute to the country. When he told us that he was appointed to become the National Assembly speaker, he displayed a sense of loss," Hung said.

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