While President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) is mulling over the appointment of the new premier, media attention turned to Premier Yu Shyi-kun's recent string of cancellations to attend public functions.
Yu had planned to watch a stage play on New Year's eve at the National Theater, but he cancelled at the last minute.
Mum's the Word
During Saturday's New Year flag-raising ceremony, Yu remained quiet while Presidential Office Secretary-General Su Tseng-chang (
Yu had also planned to host a press conference yesterday morning to brief the media about the government's relief efforts to Asian countries devastated by the 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunamis. The Executive Yuan said it would increase its relief fund from the original US$5 million to US$50 million, but again, Yu failed to attend the press conference and asked Vice Premier Yeh Chu-lan (葉菊蘭) to attend on his behalf.
Speculation was rife that Yu refused to attend the activities because he was upset over a rumor that he would have to step down from the premiership.
Cabinet spokesman Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) yesterday dismissed the rumors.
Sick and Tired
"The premier cancelled the public functions on Friday and Saturday simply because he has been suffering from a cold," Chen Chi-mai said.
"He requires plenty of rest and does not desire to cause any inconvenience for the media and other people," he added.
Chen also said that the premier will attend the launching ceremony of the online edition of a government bulletin, the Executive Yuan Gazette, scheduled for today.
According to Chen Chi-mai, Yu came down with a cold before Christmas and his condition failed to improve.
"The premier has such serious coughing that he has a hard time speaking," Chen said. "Except for coughing, he has not developed any other cold symptoms such as a fever or headache."
Chen said that the reason that the premier cancelled the arrangement to watch the play on Friday evening was because he was worried that his coughing would interrupt the performance and disturb the audience.
According to the Cabinet spokesman, Yu also took the advice of his office not to show up at yesterday's press conference because he did not want to embarrass himself and interrupt the press conference with his coughing.
Yu kept his mouth shut during Saturday's flag-raising ceremony because he did not feel well and was suffering from a cold, Chen said.