Wed, Jul 30, 2008 - Page 3 News List

Ma pays rare visit to MAC amid rumors of TSU fury

UNDER FIRE As rumors swirl that the TSU has told the MAC head to either quit or be kicked out of the party, the president yesterday met with the council’s top officials

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Ma Ying-jeou, center, Premier Liu Chao-shiuan, right and Mainland Affairs Council Chairwoman Lai Shin-yuan, left, inspect the Mainland Affairs Council's offices in Taipei yesterday.

PHOTO: CNA

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday paid a rare visit to the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) amid reports that the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU), of which MAC Chairwoman Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) is a member, was upset about the Ma administration’s cross-strait policy.

While Ma said the visit was meant to thank the council for its hard work over the past two months, his visit came in the wake of the council expressing a dissenting view from that of the Presidential Office on how Beijing should refer to Taiwan’s Olympic team.

Lai has come under fire for supporting the Ma government’s series of moves to liberalize economic ties with China, which is at odds with TSU policy.

The TSU is most upset about Ma’s recent policy decisions on China-bound investment, which include allowing semiconductor firms to set up advanced 12-inch wafer factories in China and increasing the cap on China-bound investment to 60 percent of a firm’s net worth, from a previous maximum of 40 percent.

Ma was accompanied by Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) on his visit to the MAC. During the one-hour, closed-door meeting between Ma, Lai and the council’s 100 highest-ranking officials, Ma acknowledged their efforts and achievements, Lai told reporters afterwards.

She said Ma urged the council to seize the “historic opportunity” to take advantage of improvements in cross-strait relations to push policies conducive to the people of Taiwan.

Lai shunned a question about whether she would resign as MAC chairwoman.

“There is one thing I would like to emphasize,” she said. “The government’s cross-strait policy is based on the principle of promoting the interests of the people of Taiwan and puts the people first. That principle has been my belief since I began my political career, and this is a matter of public record.”

She denied that former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), the spiritual leader of the TSU, had pressured her to resign.

Earlier yesterday, TSU Chairman Huang Kun-huei (黃昆輝) rejected speculation that he had asked Lai to resign from the MAC post, but emphasized that “it does not make sense for the TSU to endorse what she does either.”

Huang made the remarks at a press conference in response to speculation that the TSU had asked Lai to either resign or risk being stripped of her party membership.

Huang said neither Lee nor the TSU had recommended Lai to Ma, but that Ma had nonetheless asked her to join his administraion.

Huang added that since Lai became the MAC head, she had ceased taking part in TSU activities.

Meanwhile, KMT and DPP legislators continued to trade barbs over Lai’s performance.

KMT caucus deputy secretary-general Yang Chiung-ying (楊瓊瓔) urged Lai to prioritize the public’s interests over the interests of the TSU.

Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇), another deputy secretary-general of the caucus, said it would be “ridiculous” if the TSU thought Lai could overthrow the KMT’s policy by becoming a member of the Cabinet.

He said it was natural for Lai to carry out the president’s ideals since she was a member of the administration.

Cheng Wen-tsang (鄭文燦), director of DPP’s Department of Culture and Information, said Lai had pledged to put a brake on the government’s cross-strait policies when she assumed the post.

“But two months have passed, and we’ve seen less of her limiting and more of her endorsing the government’s policies,” he said.

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