Fri, Feb 04, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Hsieh says Chiang offer `unconditional'

WELCOME ABOARD?The offer of the vice premier's post to the veteran KMT official is a gesture of goodwill with no strings attached, the premier said

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Premier Frank Hsieh, right, joins Democratic Progressive Party Secretary-General Lee Ying-yuan, left, and other colleagues for a Lunar New Year lunch in the Executive Yuan's staff canteen yesterday.


Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) yesterday insisted that the offer of the vice premier's post made to Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Vice Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) was unconditional and said that he hoped to see the matter finalized a week before the legislature convenes late this month.

"The offer expresses our utmost sincerity to the opposition parties and it is not made in exchange for their endorsement nor a promise that they have to to do anything in return," Hsieh said. "It's purely based on our intention to exchange talent and cooperate with the opposition parties."

Hsieh said that if he is able to talk to KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) about the appointment, he will not name terms but thank Lien for the chance to give Chiang the post.

Hsieh said that inviting Chiang to join his team was different to forming a coalition government, which requires party-to-party negotiation. He emphasized that once cross-party negotiations were conducted, there would be a firmer idea of the entitlements, obligations and special agreements involved.

He also restated his intention to have incoming Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) take care of the matter once Su starts work on Feb. 15 if the KMT insists on negotiations.

Later last night, when asked for his comments, Su said he hoped both sides would not place too much emphasis on their differences but rather talk about things that lead to consensus.


Although Hsieh seemed reluctant to set a deadline for closing the deal, he said he would like to finalize the matter a week before the legislature starts its next session because he will be leading Cabinet officials in answering the new legislature's questions.

"I don't mind waiting if the prospects are good, but I'm afraid I'll have to consult someone else if they are not," he said.

Hsieh made the remarks while having lunch with Cabinet employees at the Executive Yuan's cafeteria. It is traditional for the premier to dine with Cabinet employees before Lunar New Year.

Cabinet Spokesman Cho Jung-tai (卓榮泰) yesterday revealed that Cabinet secretary-general Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) telephoned KMT Secretary-General Lin Fong-cheng (林豐正) yesterday, asking him to convey the premier's invitation to Lien to discuss the issue face-to-face.

Lee also told Lin that neither Chiang nor the KMT would be obliged to do anything in return if they accepted the offer of the vice premiership.

"We thought it would be a loss to the nation if Chiang continued to only be a lawmaker because he can make a bigger contribution to the country if he serves as vice premier," he said.

According to CNA, Lee and Lin have agreed to meet on Feb. 17 to discuss details of any future meeting between Hsieh and Lien.

"We're happy to see the KMT open their door a little bit. I'm sure they are finally realizing that the public wants to see political cooperation, not confrontation," he said.


In addition to Lien, Cho said the premier would also welcome a meeting with People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜).

Meanwhile, Cho confirmed yesterday that the chairman of the state-run Taiwan Sugar Corp, Lin Neng-pai (林能白), has again tendered his resignation following an earlier attempt in December. Lin took over the post in July.

Cho said he talked with Lin Neng-pai yesterday morning to assess the situation.

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