Former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) will be part of the Taiwanese delegation that will attend the inauguration of US president-elect Barack Obama on Jan. 20, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday.
Two Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) members — Tainan Mayor Hsu Tain-tsair (許添財) and lawmaker Chai Trong-rong (蔡同榮) — will also be part of the group, the ministry said.
A Central News Agency report said the two slots were only granted after DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) voiced her firm opposition to the ministry's earlier decision that excluded DPP members.
The CNA report said the ministry originally assigned all slots designated for county heads to Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) local government chiefs.
The decision sparked a vehement protest from Tsai, who demanded that the ministry review its allocation.
A DPP official, who wished to remain anonymous, was quoted in the report as saying that Tsai first received the news from Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Andrew Hsia (夏立言) when he made a report at DPP headquarters a few days ago.
The official said Tsai asked Hsia which KMT officials — in addition to the KMT legislative representatives — would be attending the inauguration.
Hsia answered that Taichung Mayor Jason Hu (胡志強), Taoyuan County Commissioner Eric Chu (朱立倫) and Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) had been chosen because of their English-language ability and knowledge of international events.
Tsai slammed the ministry's decision, saying the DPP also has many local government chiefs who are proficient in English, the report said.
A few days later, the ministry called Tsai and said it had carved out three slots for DPP members, naming Lu, Hsu and Chai.
The DPP official added that Tsai was still furious over the ministry's earlier decision, saying it showed the KMT administration's blatant disregard for the opposition and disrespect for the 40 percent of voters who supported the DPP in the last election.
The 30-plus-member Taiwanese delegation will be headed by Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平).
For US President George W. Bush's first inauguration in 2001, Wang, a KMT member, also headed the Taiwan delegation. At that time, the then DPP government invited former KMT premier Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) to head the delegation, but the proposal was vetoed by the KMT, which organized its own delegation.
More than 2 million people are expected to show up at Obama's inauguration. The ministry promised the Taiwan Economic, Cultural and Relations Office in Washington would do it best to get tickets for all members of the Taiwanese delegation.