Thu, Feb 03, 2005 - Page 3 News List

KMT chairman seems unlikely to accept invitation

By Caroline Hong and Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

It is unlikely that Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) will accept Premier Frank Hsieh's (謝長廷) offer to discuss the possibility of KMT Vice Chairman Chiang Ping-kun (江丙坤) becoming Hsieh's second in command, the KMT said yesterday.

"I just came from talking to Chairman Lien. He knows about the offer and will consider and handle it," KMT Vice Chairman and Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) said before visiting the People First Party's (PFP) Taipei headquarters yesterday.

Hsieh said in a radio interview yesterday afternoon that he was willing to meet with Lien to ask his help in convincing Chiang to fill the vice premier post. Although Hsieh has said that Chiang has already turned down the post of vice premier, the KMT discussed the possibility at its Central Standing meeting yesterday morning.

"The KMT has its own position on the matter [Hsieh's Cabinet nominations]. Chairman Lien himself cannot have a personal opinion in the matter," KMT Spokesman Chang Jung-kung (張榮恭) said yesterday.

"Our position has been that since the pan-blue camp won a majority in the year-end elections, the original party in the Cabinet should make room for the new representative party to form its own Cabinet. As of now, the formation of the new Cabinet has pretty much been completed; there is no way that a party can enter the executive. If any opposition figures are in the new Cabinet, they are joining as individuals, not as a party representative," Chang said yesterday.

If Chiang were to become part of the Hsieh Cabinet, it would be unlikely that he would be able to utilize his financial and economic know-how to help the nation, Chang said.

Chiang believes that the nation must expand its connections with China to improve its economic situation; it is unlikely that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration would support Chiang in this, Chang said.

In response to a question from reporters about whether Lien would accept or reject Hsieh's offer, Chang only answered that Lien has no say in the matter.

While the party's official stance seemed clear, not all party members held the same opinion at the KMT's Central Standing Committee meeting yesterday morning.

"If Hsieh interprets the procedures and suggestions given by the KMT in the same way as the KMT, then we can consider how to facilitate this [Chiang's nomination]," KMT Legislator and Central Standing Committee member Lee Chuan-chiao (李全教) said.

In response to Hsieh's suggestion of a coalition Cabinet, acting DPP chairman Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said yesterday that the period from now until the legislative sessions start offers a golden opportunity for promoting political reconciliation and cooperation.

"The Presidential Office, the Executive Yuan and the DPP will endeavor to help promote political negotiation and cooperation with the opposition parties after the election of a legislative speaker," Ker said. "We are open to all kinds of issues in terms of reconciliation and collaboration, including the composition of the Cabinet and the nomination list of Control Yuan members."

Ker said that anything is possible in the new Cabinet, which needs only some fine-tuning.

He added that, as far as he knew, the new Cabinet will be formed in two phases.

"I think Hsieh's Cabinet will undergo another adjustment in ministerial members on May 20, the anniversary of the president's inauguration," Ker said.

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