President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday visited military servicemen, sanitation workers and police officers to thank them for working on Lunar New Year’s Eve.
Like he had done in past years, Ma had a lunch gathering with representatives of military servicemen at Army Command Headquarters at noon before heading to Taoyuan County to give his regards to the cleaning squad in Jhongli City (中壢) and to police on duty at Xinglong police station in Taipei’s Muzha District (木柵).
Ma, accompanied by Premier and vice president-elect Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), attended the annual bell-ringing event at the Dharma Drum Mountain Buddhist Temple in Jinshan District (金山), New Taipei City (新北市).
The ceremony began at 10pm, with the bell being sounded 108 times to bid farewell to misfortunes in the past year and offer blessings and a prayer of peace for the people of Taiwan in the new year. Ma delivered the final strike to ring in the Year of the Dragon.
In a recorded Lunar New Year’s Eve address, the president wished the public a prosperous the Year of the Dragon, saying that his campaign promise of a “golden decade” of national development would turn the Republic of China into a world-class nation.
In the next three days, Ma is scheduled to make a total of 17 trips to temples and greet templegoers; visit Ma Village in Miaoli County to hand out red envelopes; visit former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Lien Chan (連戰), senior KMT member Lin Yang-kang (林洋港) and Buddhist Master Hsing Yun (星雲法師); and meet residents of post-Morakot communities in Greater Kaohsiung.
Information from the Presidential Office shows that Ma will not make a public appearance from Thursday to Sunday. During the period, he will presumably be working on the new Cabinet lineup, which is expected to be announced after Wu leads the Cabinet in resigning en masse on Jan. 31.
Earlier yesterday, Wu and Vice Premier Sean Chen, who is expected to be named premier, went to work as usual.
Queried by reporters about his rumored promotion, Chen declined to comment, saying that the “appointment of a premier is the president’s prerogative. We shall not infringe on the president’s prerogative.”
“We have been monitoring how the euro debt crisis evolves very closely. Although we are taking a Lunar New Year holiday, Europe is not,” Chen said.
The Chinese-language United Daily News has reported that Council of Labor Affairs Minister Jennifer Wang (王如玄) was a candidate for vice premier.
Minister of the Interior Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) was also a potential candidate, the report said.