Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) confirmed yesterday that former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) once asked him to be premier.
“It did happen,” Wang told reporters in the legislature. “But you all know what happened next. It was a matter of negotiation between the two parties rather than something I could decide. The matter was never settled.”
Chen’s office released a copy of a letter from Chen to Wang on Tuesday. In the letter, to be published in Chen’s next forthcoming book, the former president said he had once asked Wang to be premier and Wang had not objected to the idea.
Chen said Wang later declined the invitation for fear of opposition from within the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).
The letter also said that former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) suggested in 2004 that Wang and former Democratic Progressive Party legislator Hong Chi-chang (洪奇昌) team up to run for legislative speaker and vice speaker.
The letter said the pan-green camp had backed the suggestion but Wang later went back on his promise and dropped the idea.
Wang said yesterday Chen’s remarks were a “misunderstanding” because he had made it clear at the time that it would have been impossible for him to work with Hong without the KMT’s consent. He also said he had told Lee prior to the 2004 speaker election that cooperation with Hong was impossible.
KMT Legislator Chiu Yi (邱毅) accused Chen yesterday of trying to “drive a wedge” between KMT politicians by releasing the letter.
Deputy secretary-general of the KMT caucus Lu Hsueh-chang (呂學樟) said the Ministry of Justice should be blamed for allowing Chen to publish books even though he is in detention.