Tue, Jan 17, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Su mum on premiership possibility

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Former DPP chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) yesterday refused to say whether he would accept the premiership if it was offered to him.

As the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has just elected a new chairman, sources said President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) is now pondering whether to appoint a new premier, with Su the frontrunner for the post.

Dogged by the media yesterday, Su refused to comment on the speculation, saying only that he appreciated the concern.

Su, who resigned last month to take responsibility for the party's resounding defeat in the Dec. 3 local government elections, still enjoys a great deal of popularity and is thought to be one of the party's most charismatic figures.

Meanwhile, the Presidential Office's hesitation in responding to the Executive Yuan's decision to ask the legislature to reconsider the recently passed 2006 budget plan has observers speculating that Chen might reject the idea.

The Presidential Office's inaction on the budget is seen by many pundits as a signal that Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) will soon be replaced.

The Constitution stipulates that the Executive Yuan must send a request to the president within 10 days of receiving the written text of the government budget from the legislature if the government wants to overturn a budget plan that the legislature has passed but it deems difficult to implement.

Hsieh said yesterday that he would recommend the president ask the legislature to reconsider the budget plan as soon as he receives the budget from the legislature.

Meanwhile, even though Su sounds to many like a good choice to be premier, some DPP lawmakers voiced concern yesterday over the idea.

Legislator Hong Chi-chang (洪奇昌) of the New Tide faction said that although it is the president's constitutional right to appoint the premier, Chen might want to consider whether he wants to appoint the man who is most likely to represent the party in the presidential election in 2008.

Hong said that Chen could consider appointing someone who is not a DPP member but has business or financial background and enjoys high social status.

Central bank Governor Perng Fai-nan (彭淮南) is an example of a very good candidate, Hong said.

"No matter who the next premier is, the pan-blue camp will still hold a majority in the legislature," Hong said.

"Do we really want to place another of our best men in the front line to take the bullet?" he said.

DPP caucus whip Chen Chin-jun (陳景峻), a member of the Justice Alliance faction that President Chen co-founded, expressed the same opinion.

"While four or five premiers have been replaced since the DPP came to power, the president might want to think twice about appointing a new premier as the pan-blue alliance still dominates the legislature," he said.

"I don't think the appointment of Su would help resolve the political deadlock."

Chen Chin-jun also called on the president to refrain from recruiting opposition members to join the Cabinet and instead seek talented people from within the ruling party.

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