Mon, Oct 25, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Yu silent after Chen's remarks on the premiership

POWER STRUGGLE?The premier did not comment after the president said the role of the premier was to focus on domestic issues, and some believe this will lead to conflict

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Premier Yu Shyi-kun yesterday opted to keep his mouth shut yesterday after President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) had insinuated that Yu's job is to focus on domestic affairs rather than on how to climb the political ladder.

"Thank you for your concerns," Yu said to reporters after stumping for Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislative candidates Chuang Suo-han (莊碩漢) and Chang Ching-fang (張清芳) in Taipei County yesterday morning. Yu then swiftly left the scene without elaborating on the issue.

Responding to a question fielded by a student at the Ketagalan Academy (凱達格蘭學校) on Saturday, President Chen said that the premier's job is to make the country a better place, but not to think about how to retain the post or move on to a better position.

"The role the premier plays should be a defender of government policies," Chen said. "His job is to make people's lives better, not to think about how to move on to a better place."

Chen's remarks drew divided responses from political figures yesterday. Presidential Office Secretary-General Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), who attended the same events shortly after Yu, did not dismiss the remark made by Chen.

"The president's words meant well and the premier also did well in his job," he said. "I think the message the president wants to get across is that he hopes to see all Cabinet officials and party members concentrate on campaigning for DPP flag bearers for the December legislative elections."

Presidential Office spokesman Chen Wen-tsung (陳文宗) said Chen's remark was not targeted at a particular person and called on the public not to misinterpret it.

Cabinet Spokesman Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said that the president was well aware of Yu's hard work.

"The communication channels between the Executive Yuan and the Presidential Office have remained open and the president has been very supportive of the efforts the premier has made over the years," he said.

Chen Chi-mai blamed the media for twisting Chen's words and misinterpreting Yu's campaign efforts as expanding his personal support base.

Chen Chi-mai said that the purpose of Yu's stumping efforts is to tell the electorate about the predicament faced by the Executive Yuan in the legislature, where the ruling DPP does not enjoy a majority.

"No one knows better than the Executive Yuan about how difficult it is to pass a bill in the legislature," he said. "The premier's campaigning endeavor has only one purpose and that is to tell the electorate about the difficulty and hope things could change after the elections."

Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) caucus whip Chen Chien-ming (陳建銘) said that the president's remark was targeted at Yu. "While President Chen desperately wants to see the DPP win the legislative elections, he certainly hopes to see all party members exert themselves to reach that goal rather than taking advantage of the opportunity to beef up their own political status," he said.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) said the president's comment was a signal marking the beginning of a sour relationship between President Chen and Yu.

"His remark reflects only one thing and that is, high-ranking DPP officials think of nothing but power and position rather than the people's welfare," he said.

"I suspect it's one of his political gambits to prevent himself from becoming a lame-duck president earlier than he expects," Wu added.

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