While many may wonder why Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) wants to meet with Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) amid calls for President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) resignation, some analysts believe it is a smart move that puts the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) on the strategic high ground.
Conspiracy theorists have argued that Su's action was a scheme cooked up by the DPP's New Tide faction aimed at weakening Chen.
Su and the faction have retained a close relationship because of their common belief in more liberal cross-strait economic policies, a position that Chen is opposed to.
Some contended that Su is actually doing Ma a generous political favor because the KMT chief, who is also Taipei's mayor, is responsible for outbreaks of violence and disorder caused by the anti-Chen campaign initiated by former DPP chairman Shih Ming-teh (
Political commentator Chin Heng-wei (
He also accused Su of usurping the power of DPP Chairman Yu Shyi-kun because dialogue between political leaders should be conducted by party chairmen, not the head of the Executive Yuan.
Chin said that Su, whose constitutional duty is to answer to the legislature, not political parties, could meet with caucus leaders or Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (
Wang Kung-yi (
Since former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) is preoccupied with the year-end Taipei mayoral election, it would be a party-to-party negotiation if Yu held talks with Ma.
"It would be talks between the premier and Taipei mayor if Su handles the job," he said. "President Chen still sits on the strategic high ground, while Lu, who has kept a low profile recently, could play the wild card role."
Chen Yi-shen (陳儀深), deputy chairman of the Northern Taiwan Society, sees Su's actions as a response to former president Lee Teng-hui's (李登輝) hope of seeing Wang Jin-pyng organize a cross-party negotiation with political leaders. Neither Su nor Ma are reportedly on Lee's wish list for such talks.
Since both Su and Ma are reluctant to see the legislative speaker overshadow them, Ma responded positively to Su's call for a meeting.
Su faces greater pressure than Ma because if he manages to defuse current political tensions, he will significantly boost his chances of running in the 2008 presidential election.
Ma is eager to see a meeting happen, especially before the legislature votes on the motion to recall President Chen on Oct. 13, because he does not want to be sidelined. Ma has even said that he does not mind if nothing comes of a meeting as long as long as they can sit down and talk.
Wang Kung-yi said that Ma is eager to talk with Su because he does not want to be overshadowed by Shih in the anti-Chen campaign.
If Lee eventually comes out to form a party with Wang Jin-pyng and Shih, such a "third party" force would make Ma the leader of the Mainlander clique.