Wed, Nov 22, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Presidential Office rebuts Wang premiership rumor

By Ko Shu-ling and Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTERS

The Presidential Office yesterday dismissed new speculation that President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) was thinking of replacing Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) with Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) after next month's mayoral elections.

"The report does not have any basis in fact," Presidential Office Secretary-General Mark Chen (陳唐山) said. "The president has great confidence in the premier and members of his Cabinet. Communication between the president and the premier has been smooth. I have no idea where they got this idea."

Mark Chen made the remarks in response to a story published in yesterday's Chinese-language China Times, claiming that President Chen revealed the plan to several party members last week.

The report said the president told those "close to Su" that the plan was aimed at pre-empting former president Lee Teng-hui's (李登輝) plan to form a "third force," where Lee hoped to recruit Wang, Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) and former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷).

Wang met the president last Thursday and invited him to form a government, the report said, adding that President Chen said it would be a good time to replace Su with Wang after the Taipei and Kaohsiung mayoral elections.

The Presidential Office issued a statement dismissing the report as "groundless."

The statement said President Chen and Wang did meet last Thursday, but they did not touch on inviting Wang to form a government.

"They talked about issues regarding the president's `state affairs fund' and the special allowance funds for local chiefs, the president's nomination of Control Yuan members and the long-stalled arms procurement package," the statement said.

The best way to enhance political stability would be for the public to support the administration rather than making unfounded speculation about government reshuffles, the statement added.

Wang yesterday also denied the report, saying "It [the report] was total nonsense. There was no such thing. How could [the president] possibly talk to me about this."

Former Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Shen Fu-hsiung (沈富雄), however, said that Wang had considered the possibility of forming a Cabinet.

"Wang recently told me that there were two conditions [for him to form a Cabinet] -- first, he would not help Chen escape from his current predicament, and second, that the pan-blue camp wouldn't be divided as a result," Sheng said when approached by the press for his thoughts.

Meanwhile, a pan-blue heavyweight yesterday told reporters on condition of anonymity that whether Wang decided to form a Cabinet or not was up to Wang himself.

"Former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Lien Chan (連戰) told Wang that the most important condition was whether he, after being appointed premier, could bring stability and harmony to society. KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) also agreed with Lien on this," he said.

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