Tue, Jan 06, 2009 - Page 3 News List

President blunders during speech at anniversary party

By Ko Shu-Ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

A verbal blunder yesterday by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) fueled press speculation that he may need a vacation.

Attending a cocktail party celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) Memorial Foundation in Taipei yesterday afternoon, Ma referred to the British Museum as the “British department store” when acknowledging the contribution of the foundation during his speech and complimenting the museum on its role in the joint project.

The issue of Ma’s need for a vacation came under scrutiny following a Chinese-language United Daily News report that said he had not taken a single day off since his inauguration on May 20.

REGULATIONS

Central Personnel Administration (CPA) Minister Chen Ching-hsiu (陳清秀) said that his office would draft vacation regulations for the head of state.

The CPA was also considering the possibility of building a vacation compound similar to that used by US presidents.

Chen said that he thought Ma should take at least one day off per month and that he should have at least seven paid days off per year in line with other civil servants.

The Presidential Office, however, said that Ma was not in the mood to take vacations because of the current economic situation.

Minister of Education Cheng Jei-cheng (鄭瑞城) also amused and embarrassed attendees with mistakes of his own.

Cheng addressed Ma as the “former vice president,” possibly because Ma and former vice president Lien Chan (連戰) were sitting close together.

IDIOM

Then, as Cheng attempted to use an idiom to commend former education minister Mao Gao-wen (毛高文) for assisting in the establishment of the foundation, Cheng said Mao had “set a bad example.”

Cheng also used the wrong idiom to describe the age of the foundation, saying it was “slim and graceful.”

Former minister of education Tu Cheng-sheng (杜正勝) was often harshly criticized for his incorrect use of idioms during his tenure.

One of the best-known examples was when he used negative idioms to describe the good deeds of volunteers.

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