Thu, Feb 17, 2005 - Page 4 News List

Taiwan's WTO representative Yen to retire soon

APPROVED Citing a desire to return to Taipei for family reasons, Taiwan's first permanent representative to the WTO plans to retire within the next few months

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH CNA

To refute rumors that he would be appointed as Premier Frank Hsieh's (謝長廷) deputy, the nation's permanent representative to the WTO, Yen Ching-chang (顏慶章), said in Geneva Tuesday that he would leave his civil service career within the next month or two.

Yen, a former finance minister appointed as the country's first permanent representative to the WTO in 2002, said in an interview with the Central News Agency that "top government officials" approved his retirement proposal last month.

Noting that widespread speculation he was going to become the vice premier had forced him to disclose his retirement plan earlier than he would like to, Yen said he began considering retirement three months ago.

Media reports said that Hsieh has been considering choosing either Yen or Wu Rong-i (吳榮義), president of the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research, as his deputy.

Mere Speculation

Hsieh said neither Yen nor Wu were among the potential candidates and Wu dismissed the reports as mere speculation.

The reports said Yen always wanted to come back to Taipei because his wife could not move to Geneva with him.

Dedicated to a civil service career for more than three decades, the 57-year-old Yen explained that he would continue serving Taiwan in other ways after his departure.

"My family support my decision. I decided to retire three months ago and informed my superiors of the decision when I returned to Taipei to attend the conferences in January," Yen said.

The representative said that according to the government's practice, he was not supposed to reveal his retirement plans before his superiors announced it.

"However, in order to avoid unnecessary trouble and refute the rumors, I had no choice but to unveil my plan and to leave my civil service career," said Yen.

Yen, whose work was highly praised for the financial reform he launched as finance minister, was frequently named when the government went through personnel reshuffling among high-ranking officials.

University of Wisconsin Law School invited Yen to be a lecturer in international trade law five years ago, and has contacted him again recently, asking about his intentions regarding the job.

Academia a Possibility

"International trade law is my favorite subject? I can do a lot of things in academia," said Yen, who wanted to leave Geneva, where the country's representative office at the WTO is based, in March or April.

"When I will be able to leave depends on when my successor will be appointed," he said.

It remains unclear who will take over Yen's post.

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