Fri, Feb 04, 2005 - Page 3 News List

KMT changes tack on offer to Chiang

By Caroline Hong  /  STAFF REPORTER

In an about face, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday said it is willing to talk with Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) about KMT Vice Chairman and former deputy legislative speaker Chiang Pin-kun (江丙坤) being appointed vice premier.

However, the KMT said Chiang's appointment was conditional on a consensus being reached on at least five matters.

KMT spokesman Chang Jung-kung (張榮恭) said the party feared Chiang would become a lame duck in the post, and therefore wanted to come to an agreement with the government on Taiwan's national status; direct links with China; construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant; changing the national title; and the investigation into the assassination attempt on President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮).

In addition, Chang said, to avoid Chiang becoming "another Tang Fei [唐飛, a former premier]," the administration must clearly define the extent of the office's powers.

Tang, a KMT party member, was appointed by Chen in 2000. The KMT has maintained that Tang's influence was curtailed by the Chen administration.

"Although the KMT is in opposition, it has always cared about national development. The KMT feels that everyone must participate in securing the happiness and prosperity of the people," Chang said.

"For stability, there must be cross-strait peace. For prosperity, there must be economic prosperity. As a result, the KMT welcomes political cooperation," he said.

Chiang was guarded about developments yesterday.

Chiang told reporters at the legislature yesterday afternoon that he would consider accepting Hsieh's offer if the KMT supported him.

"If I am to join the Cabinet, the KMT must first reach a consensus on ... allowing members of opposition parties to join the Cabinet," Chiang said. "For Taiwan's economy to flourish and develop there must first be cross-strait reconciliation and cooperation between governing and opposition parties.

"Many people from the business and financial world have encouraged me to become a government official, but until these problems have been resolved there is no point in having me join the Cabinet as an individual," Chiang said.

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