Sun, May 18, 2008 - Page 3 News List

Ma's office apologizes to chairman

VIP ZONE After a seating arrangement led Wu Poh-hsiung to say he would not attend the inauguration, Ma Ying-jeou's office moved him up to the front row

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

President-elect Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) office apologized yesterday over the seating arrangements for Tuesday's presidential inauguration ceremony, adding that Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) would be attending the ceremony.

Ma’s office offered the apology yesterday in response to Wu’s alleged discontent after he was originally given a seat in a section behind foreign guests and government officials.

A report in the Chinese-language United Daily News said that Wu was furious over the seating arrangements and had initially said he would not attend the ceremony.

Ma spokesman Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) said that the seating had been arranged jointly by the Presidential Office and Ma’s office, and that it was customary to seat foreign guests, Presidential Office officials, incoming Cabinet members and legislators at the front in the “VIP zone.”

Chairmen of political parties and guests from civil groups were usually seated in the second VIP zone, Wang said.

Ma and vice president-elect Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) acknowledged that such seating arrangements were inappropriate and asked the preparatory team to seat the KMT chairman in the front row in appreciation of Wu’s contributions during the presidential election.

“Chairman Wu will be the ruling party chairman after the inauguration and should be treated with great respect,” Wang said yesterday outside KMT headquarters.

“We apologize for any carelessness during the preparatory process and hope everyone will forgive our negligence and attend the inauguration ceremony in high spirits,” he said.

Ma and Siew will complete the transfer of power at the Presidential Office with President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) on Tuesday morning before heading to the inauguration ceremony at Taipei Arena.

The president-elect and foreign guests will then take the Taiwan High Speed Rail to Kaohsiung, where the inauguration banquet and a fireworks display will take place, Wang said.

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