Wed, Sep 07, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Kaohsiung mayor offers to quit

RESPONSIBILITY Chen Chi-mai has offered to resign after a riot last month, but the premier said he will wait for the result of an investigation to decide if he will accept it

BY MO YAN-CHIH AND JIMMY CHUANG  /  STAFF REPORTERS , WITH CNA

Acting Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) yesterday offered to resign over last month's riot by Thai laborers building the city's MRT system, saying that it had caused him great suffering.

Chen apologized for the social turmoil caused by the riot, and denied having intentions to run in the Kaohsiung mayoral election next year.

Some have speculated that Chen's decision to step down was part of a plan to run for mayor.

"Although I was prepared to bear any suffering as acting city mayor, the things that have happened in recent days exceeded my expectations," Chen said. "The accusation against my father hurts me very much ? my family and I would never take advantage of my position to seek profits."

Reports have speculated that Chen's father, a presidential adviser, had meddled in the importation of the Thai workers.

Chen also refuted recent reports from Chinese-language media that he intended to run for Kaohsiung Mayor next year.

"I feel very discouraged by the rumors in the media. As acting Kaohsiung City Mayor, I am only thinking about how to do a good job. The election has never entered my mind during this period," he said.

Chen announced his decision yesterday morning after the weekly city council meeting. As he read out the announcement, he sobbed and at one point couldn't speak for about a minute.

Chen confirmed that he had offered his resignation twice since the riot on Aug. 21. He first offered to quit on Aug. 28, and last Tuesday he made the offer again in writing. Both times Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) turned him down.

Chen said that when he offered his resignation to Hsieh, the premier told him that being a mayor requires "suffering," and that this is part of a mayor's responsibility.

"I apologize that the riot has caused significant social turmoil, and hope that now we can focus on examining the system for hiring foreign labor and establish an efficient political system in Taiwan," he said.

Chen declined to say whether he will stay on if Hsieh rejects his resignation, and refused to answer any further questions from reporters after the announcement.

The premier, commenting on the resignations of Council of Labor Affairs Chairwoman Chen Chu (陳菊) and Chen Chi-mai, yesterday said that he is afraid that government officials may start to be afraid to dare to do things for the public out of fear of making a mistake.

"We should not immediately ask an official to step down if there is a mistake," the premier said." Instead, we should figure out what went wrong and make sure the same mistake is not repeated. Otherwise, the problem will always be there."

Hsieh again said that Chen Chu and Chen Chi-mai's resignations are still lying on his table and he will not make a decision until the result of an investigation into the riot is available.

"When a government official, like Chen Chu, has done a lot of things for us and has been lauded for that, shouldn't we cherish and do our best to keep this official in office?" Hsieh said.

Meanwhile, Democratic Progressive Party Chairman Su Tseng-cheng (蘇貞昌) said yesterday that resignations were not the key to solving problems and there was no need to link them to elections.

"The Executive Yuan and the law enforcement agency are now investigating the case of the Thai laborers and the DPP thinks the key to the incident is to discover the problems and solve them quickly," Su said.

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