Cabinet Spokesman Chen Chi-mai (
"If the Executive Yuan were a sports team, the search for the head coach should precede that of the players," Chen said. "President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) has not decided who the new premier will be, and there's no such a thing as an acting Kaohsiung mayor."
Chen made the remarks in Kaohsiung, his hometown, yesterday morning in response to a media report run on the front page of a Chinese-language newspaper.
The report claimed that Hsieh would be appointed the new premier and that "sources from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) "revealed that Chen Chi-mai was expected to fill Hsieh's position to pave the way for him to run for Kaohsiung mayor next year."
The report also said that both Hsieh and Chen Shui-bian reached a consensus on the appointment on Dec. 31, and that the president would make public the appointment on Monday, when incumbent Premier Yu Shyi-kun leads the Executive Yuan to resign en masse.
Dismissing the report as "incorrect," Chen Chi-mai added that it was "total media speculation." He also said that no one has thus far sought him out for any position.
He also jokingly said that the paper carrying the report was famous for running stories with contradictory facts.
According to a recent study by the Foundation for the Advancement of Media Excellence of seven Chinese-language newspapers and their reports on appointments last year, 43.5 percent of reports on personnel choices were incorrect. In other words, almost half of their predictions were untrustworthy.
The worst offender was the United Daily News, with 62.1 percent of its reports speculating on Cabinet appointments found to be inaccurate.
Echoing Chen Chi-mai's opinion, Hsieh yesterday tried to tone things down by cracking jokes.
"I'm so busy today that I haven't had time to confirm it with the spokesman yet. Let me ask him," he said.
Hsieh also dismissed the claim he met with the president on New Year's Eve to discuss the position.
Hsieh first said he had to check with his secretary on last year's schedule, and then said he recalled he had been practicing dancing for the New Year's party held by the city government.
"I was so tired that I didn't have the energy to talk with anyone," he said.