The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday confirmed there would be three groups of well-wishers from Taiwan attending US president-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration ceremony next Tuesday, but emphasized there was only one official government delegation.
MOFA Spokesman Henry Chen (陳銘政) said after much deliberation over the scheduling conflicts between the official delegation, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) delegation and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) delegation, there would be three separate groups attending the event even though the groups will enter and exit the US at the same time.
“Only the official delegation headed by Legislative Yuan Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) will be fully funded by the government and authorized to speak on behalf of the administration. The other two party delegations will only be partially subsidized,” Chen said.
The DPP group will be led by former vice-president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) while KMT Legislator John Chiang (蔣孝嚴) will head his party’s delegation.
With less than a week to go before the inauguration, however, MOFA still was unsure if it could get enough tickets to accommodate the 30-person delegation.
Chen could not confirm whether the government delegation would be seated along with delegates from other countries or be seated with members of the public.
When asked yesterday morning if the Taipei Economic and Cultural Relations Office in Washington had obtained enough tickets for this year’s ceremony, Chen answered, “I am quite sure we will have enough tickets.”
In the afternoon, a Central News Agency report from Washington quoted TECRO Head Jason Yuan (袁健生) as saying given the overwhelming number of well-wishers coming from the around the world, it would be difficult “to even get one ticket.”
DPP Spokesman Cheng Wen-tsang (鄭文燦) said the party took the nation’s diplomacy seriously and insisted there be only one Taiwanese delegation attending the inauguration. The DPP did not want to split the delegation and asked the MOFA to ditch its three-delegation plan, he added.
Cheng said that because then KMT Vice chairman Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) refused to join the government delegation in 2001 to attend the inauguration of US President George W. Bush, the DPP government had no choice but to allow Siew and other KMT members to form a separate KMT delegation, but this time around the DPP had not chosen to boycott the government delegation.