Sat, Dec 18, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Pan-blues say Chen's idea would lead to dictatorship

By Debby Wu  /  STAFF REPORTER

While the pan-blue camp said that President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) recent comment that the president could double as premier was a move toward a dictatorship, pan-green camp politicians said that Chen was merely making a suggestion for a possible direction for future constitutional amendments.

Chen mentioned the political system of the Marshall Islands as a possible model for Taiwan, when he dined with Marshall Islands President Kessai Hesa Note in Taitung two days ago.

In the Marshall Islands, the party holding the majority in the legislature has the power to choose the president, who also serves as prime minister, and to form a Cabinet.

The Republic of China's Constitution does not allow such an arrangement.

Chen's statement soon resulted in heated discussions, with some people claiming that Chen was hinting at his own wish to double as the premier.

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) was quick to raise doubts about Chen's true intentions.

"I don't know whether Chen was just mentioning the doubling casually or if he really means to push for that," KMT caucus whip Tseng Yung-chuan (曾永權) said.

"If Chen really meant it, then Taiwan might be going into an era of dictatorship," Tseng said.

Pan-green politicians, meanwhile, sought to try to clarify Chen's statement.

Premier Yu Shyi-kun said that Chen was just offering a suggestion, and that the country's political system would be changed only if there was a public consensus.

"I don't think the president meant that he wanted to double as the premier," Yu said.

Meanwhile, speculation on who will be the next premier continued yesterday, with the rumored candidate central bank -- Governor Perng Fai-nan (彭淮南) -- denying that he would take the position after being questioned by legislators. Perng also said that the Chen had not summoned him for discussion.

When asked by the media whether Perng would be a competent candidate, Yu said that Perng had attained outstanding achievements in his field, and that he would be competent if serving in a finance position. But Yu did not say whether Perng would be a competent premier.

Questioned by Yu on his own chances of becoming premier for a second time, Yu said that he would not actively lobby for the position. He also declined to characterize his own performance as premier.

"The Cabinet will resign as soon as possible after this legislative session. I have been satisfied with my ministers, but I cannot make an evaluation of myself," Yu said.

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