Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) retracted his resignation yesterday after President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) paid him an unscheduled visit at the foundation and urged him to stay.
“After listening to what the president said today, I decided to stay and finish my mission,” Chiang told reporters yesterday at the SEF headquarters after Ma’s visit.
Chiang said he would continue his work and focus his efforts on preparing for the fourth round of negotiations between the SEF and China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) in Taiwan later this year, as well as finding a permanent location for the foundation.
He said he was not good at handling criticism and allegations leveled against him, and added that he would take action against those who damaged his reputation.
Ma, accompanied by National Security Council Secretary-General Su Chi (蘇起) and Mainland Affairs Council Chairwoman Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛), visited the SEF yesterday afternoon, and had a brief private talk with Chiang before meeting other SEF officials.
Stepping up his efforts to dissuade Chiang from resigning, Ma made his first visit to the SEF headquarters since taking office in May last year. Top SEF officials gathered and applauded Ma as he arrived.
Ma thanked the SEF staff for their efforts and accomplishments in completing three rounds of cross-strait negotiations with China, and said that he was glad to see the foundation, which was established by Ma and SEF Secretary-General Kao Koong-lian (高孔廉), had accomplished so much since Chiang took over as chairman.
“The SEF made its biggest breakthroughs and made the most accomplishments on cross-strait relations over the last year ... How can I let Chairman Chiang leave now?” Ma said.
Ma said he understood that Chiang has faced tremendous pressure because of recent criticism of him and his family, and urged him not to quit because of slander and personal attacks.
“I hope Chairman Chiang can continue serving the country. There are a lot of challenges ahead, and we need to act cautiously,” Ma said.
Chiang, who sent his resignation letter to Lai yesterday morning, told the president that he would “take the overall situation into consideration and make the right decision.”
Chiang tendered his resignation on Monday when he visited Ma at the Presidential Office. Ma rejected the resignation and urged him to stay on at the SEF.
Chiang said he had decided to quit because of health and family reasons. However, local Chinese-language newspapers speculated that Chiang’s resignation was linked to Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Wu Po-hsiung’s (吳伯雄) alleged plan to take over the position to pave the way for Ma becoming KMT chairman.
Chiang’s resignation also came after recent criticism over his son operating a business in China and concerns about his close business ties across the Strait.