Sat, Feb 21, 2009 - Page 3 News List

President to skip conference

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER, WITH CNA

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) will not attend the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) national civic affairs conference today and tomorrow after the DPP legislative caucus boycotted Premier Liu Chao-shiuan’s (劉兆玄) presentation yesterday, the Presidential Office said.

Presidential Office Spokesman Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) said the president had planned to rearrange his schedule to attend the conference in the afternoon, but changed his mind after the DPP caucus tried to prevent Liu from giving a report on government policies on the legislative floor yesterday.

“Given the current situation between the government and opposition parties, the reason for the president’s participation in the conference no longer exists,” Wang said at the Presidential Office.

Wang said the DPP ignored government efforts to improve the economy and failed to show sincerity through discussing issues of national importance with the government.

The Presidential Office will not send any representatives to attend the conference, he said.

The conference is cosponsored by the DPP and the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) with the goal of gauging public opinion on national affairs. Assessing public opinion through the conference could help monitor government performance, the DPP said.

DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) had called on Ma to attend and “listen to the real voice of the public.”

DPP Spokesman Cheng Wen-tsang (鄭文燦) expressed dissatisfaction.

“If President Ma were sincere about attending, he would have made the decision days in advance, not wait until the day before the conference and use the boycott at the legislature as an excuse,” he said.

Ma is scheduled to hold an economic brainstorming meeting with Liu and Cabinet officials this morning before leaving Taipei in the afternoon to visit other cities and counties.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Spokesman Lee Chieng-rong (李建榮) later joined the Presidential Office in condemning the DPP for boycotting the legislative session, adding that party Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) agreed that the president should not attend the conference.

Meanwhile, Tsai and TSU Chairman Huang Kun-huei (黃昆輝) visited former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) at his Taipei residence yesterday to invite him to take part in the event.

Sources with knowledge of the meeting said that the 86-year-old Lee turned down the invitation, telling Tsai and Huang that he had no intention of joining the conference because of his age, adding that it was time to allow young people to take over the responsibility of leading the country.

On Taiwan’s economy, Lee said he believed the industrial sector should look back to Taiwan’s economic development in finding strategies on how to help the country build an independent economy.

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