Fri, Apr 27, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Su's St. Lucia statement draws KMT fire

`PREMATURE' The pan-blue camp slammed the premier, saying he used the news to boost his presidential chances, something Vice President Annette Lu agreed with

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

Premier Su Tseng-chang's (蘇貞昌) announcement on Wednesday that Taiwan will resume diplomatic ties with St. Lucia drew ire from pan-blue lawmakers yesterday who panned it as a "premature" announcement, while their pan-green counterparts urged them to appreciate the country's new ally.

Su made the announcement on Wednesday night at a campaign rally for his bid in the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) presidential primary.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislative caucus whip Hsu Shao-ping (徐少萍) said Su shouldn't have disclosed the news before a joint communique was signed by the two countries.

KMT Legislator Kuo Su-chun (郭素春) criticized Su accusing him of trying to increase his prospects in the DPP's primary.

"Su must drop out of the presidential race to take responsibility if the re-establishing of ties fail as a result of China's interference following his announcement,"she said.

In defense of the premier, DPP Legislator Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) said in a separate press conference yesterday that "there was no reason for our government to conceal the good news from people because the foreign minister of St. Lucia had already put the word out in the country's Congress."

Saying that it was difficult for Taiwan to make diplomatic breakthroughs because of China's incessant repression of Taiwan's international space, she added "The news deserves plaudits and unnecessary criticism will only affect morale of hard-working diplomatic staff."

DPP legislative caucus whip Wang Shu-hui (王淑慧) said that China's attempts to suffocate Taiwan internationally are incessant and Beijing would try to sabotage the plan whether Su had announced the news or not.

Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) yesterday, however, chastised the premier for revealing the news prematurely, saying foreign affairs is the sole authority of the president.

"I am deeply distressed by the fact that somebody takes advantage of such a major national affair and uses it for election gains," she said. "Nobody has the right to reveal the news before the diplomatic ties are formally established."

While foreign affairs does not fall under the jurisdiction of the Executive Yuan, Lu said that Su jumped at the opportunity to take credit.

If anything bad should happen as a result of the premature revelation, Su must be held fully responsible, said Lu, who is also vying for the DPP's nomination for next year's presidential election.

Lu made the remarks in Nantou yesterday afternoon while holding an afternoon chat with reporters.

The Presidential Office yesterday, however, tried to downplay the incident, saying that Su had notified President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) in advance and Chen agreed to let Su disclose the news.

The official, who asked to remain anonymous, said it was not a secret that St. Lucia decided on April 23 to resume diplomatic relations with Taiwan because it was reported in the press.

The official said that the position of the Presidential Office on the matter is clear: they recognize the effort made by the Executive Yuan and Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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