Mon, Jan 28, 2008 - Page 3 News List

Chang to remain premier, Cabinet stays

CARETAKER CHANG Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng of the KMT said rejecting the resignations and having a 'caretaker Cabinet' was a reasonable course of action

By Loa Iok-sin, Mo Yan-chih and Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTERS, WITH CNA

Premier Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄) announced yesterday that he would continue to serve as premier "for political stability" and that most of his Cabinet members would also stay on, after President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) rejected his resignation.

Chang resigned from the position on Thursday following a tradition set by previous premiers following the election of a new legislature.

However, with only three months left of his presidential term, Chen decided to reject Chang's resignation in order to avoid any more political upheaval, the Central News Agency reported.

Chang accepted Chen's decision and said that most of his team would stay as well.

"My Cabinet team knows my leadership style well," Chang said when approached for comment outside his residence. "I think they will stay on with me."

As for the vacancies left by former Cabinet members who were elected to the legislature, "those vacancies will be filled with lawmakers who failed in their re-election bids," Chang said.

Meanwhile, Chang confirmed that Government Information Office Minister Shieh Jhy-wey (謝志偉) and Minister of Education Tu Cheng-sheng (杜正勝) would stay on.

Shieh and Tu resigned before the Cabinet did so en masse, after Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) and several other Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) members said that the two, along with Ministry of Education chief secretary Chuang Kuo-jung (莊國榮), were partly responsible for the party's defeat in the legislative elections because of their "controversial" behavior.

In related news, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) said yesterday he supported the president's decision to reject the resignation of the Cabinet and that it should be established as a constitutional convention, dismissing criticism that the move showed disrespect to the legislature.

"Rejecting the [Cabinet's] resignation is more acceptable. It would be wrong for the president to accept [Chang's] resignation and then appoint a new premier only months before the presidential election," Wang said yesterday outside the Central Election Commission, where he was accompanying Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) as he registered his candidacy.

Constitutional convention stipulates that the Cabinet resign when a new legislature is elected and gives the president the power to choose a new premier without requiring the consent of the new legislature.

Establishing a new constitutional convention, as Chen has suggested, would eliminate the problem of a Cabinet forming twice in the space of three months, once when the new legislature is sworn in on Feb. 1 and again when the new president is inaugurated on May 20.

Rejecting the resignation and making the Cabinet a "caretaker Cabinet" presenting policies and bills through cross-party negotiations was more reasonable, Wang said.

Wang said the Constitution did not require the premier to resign after a new legislature was elected.

Meanwhile, two academics yesterday criticized the DPP caucus' move to seek a constitutional interpretation on the new "single district, two-vote" electoral voting system.

At a forum in Taipei, National Taiwan University political science professor Chang Lin-cheng (張麟徵) said it was "strange" for the caucus to pursue the interpretation, adding that such a move would give the public a negative impression as the new system had been "co-authored" by the DPP and the KMT.

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