Wed, Oct 17, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Premier defends his role amid mounting criticism

WATCHING THE CLOCK:Despite surviving a Sept. 22 no-confidence vote, there is continued speculation Chen may soon be ousted, but he maintains the reports are ‘baseless’

By Shih Hsiu-chuan and Mo Yan-chih  /  Staff reporters

Premier Sean Chen answers lawmakers’ questions in the legislature in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times

Premier Sean Chen (陳冲) yesterday dismissed ongoing speculation over the uncertainty of his position, saying he continues to remain attentive to all his duties.

Chen made the remarks as he rebutted a report in the Chinese-language China Times yesterday that said he had offered to resign last month when opposition parties led by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) launched a no-confidence vote to remove him.

The China Times report cited Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Ting Shou-chung (丁守中) as its source.

“Don’t believe the report — it’s far from the truth,” Chen said yesterday, dismissing it as “absolutely baseless.”

Since Chen survived the no-confidence vote on Sept. 22, it has been rumored that he has been placed on probation for a period of one to three months, contingent on the Cabinet’s performance in addressing the nation’s economic woes.

After the no-confidence vote was defeated by the majority KMT, some KMT lawmakers said that they had given Chen three months to improve the economy.

Three days after the vote, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) reportedly said at a dinner gathering with some KMT lawmakers that the Cabinet could make improvements within one month, rather than three months, as long as they work harder. The remarks were then interpreted by some to mean that Ma had given Chen one month to stimulate the economy.

More rumors emerged last week that Chen may be removed from the key Cabinet position. On Monday, Taiwan Solidarity Union Legislator Lin Shih-chia (林世嘉) said that given that mayoral by-elections need only be undertaken if the local government head has not already completed half of their term, the KMT government could therefore replace Chen with a standing mayor, including Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌), New Taipei City (新北市) Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) or Greater Taichung Mayor Jason Hu (胡志強), all members of the KMT, after Dec. 25, when they will have completed two years of their four-year terms.

Fielding questions from DPP Legislator Lin Shu-fen (林淑芬) in the legislature late yesterday, Chen denied having been informed that he had a three-month time frame to improve the national economic situation.

Asked by Lin if he was willing to continue as premier, Chen said he did not know whether he would still be premier three months from now, but that he was determined to be faithful to his post every day as long as he remains in the post.

Separately yesterday, Hau defended Chen’s performance and said he would complete his four-year term as Taipei mayor.

“National policies require long-term planning and it is not fair to ask Premier Chen to present achievements in a short time. I think Premier Chen is a great talent in the financial field, and the Cabinet will do better given more time,” he said.

Saying that a Cabinet reshuffle at this moment would only cause instability, Hau called on the public to give Chen and the Cabinet more time to present solutions.

“I promised to complete my four-year term during my election campaign, and my priority now is to boost the local economy and promote development of the city,” he said.

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