The Presidential Office and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday dismissed speculation over a Cabinet reshuffle, while playing down confrontations generated by Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) and Greater Taichung Mayor Jason Hu (胡志強).
In a statement, the Presidential Office denied rumors that Hu will serve as Control Yuan president after the next Cabinet reshuffle takes place before the Lunar New Year holiday at the end of next month.
The Presidential Office also dismissed reports that Representative to the US King Pu-tsung (金溥聰) will take over as vice premier.
“The reshuffles are sheer speculation. It is not true,” the Presidential Office said.
The Presidential Office’s denial comes in the wake of Hu’s remarks on Friday that he blamed the KMT for urging former Taipei EasyCard Corp chairman Sean Lien (連勝文) through the media to move out of his luxury apartment complex, the Palace (帝寶), to prevent his wealthy background from affecting the party’s image and his Taipei mayoral bid.
The KMT dismissed the claim that it asked Lien to move.
“No one in the KMT has ever asked Lien to move out the Palace. The media reports are not true. As for the Taipei mayoral election, the KMT will follow the primary mechanism and complete the nomination fairly,” KMT spokesman Yang Wei-chung (楊偉中) said.
Hu added that the party leadership should enhance communication with members.
He also joked about recent shoe-throwing protests against President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), indicating that the president can open a shop with the amount of shoes that have been thrown at him.
Hu yesterday defended his remarks as simply a humorous comment, adding that he had no intention of criticizing the president.
“I didn’t think anyone would make a big deal out of a joke. I have also said a dozen times that I will not join the Cabinet and nobody discussed the issue with me,” he said.
Hau yesterday declined to comment on his criticism of the Cabinet’s performance and his urge for the government to abolish the Special Investigation Division (SID).
“I have said what I wanted to say yesterday,” he said.
Hau called on the government on Friday to consider abolishing the SID, questioning its credibility over its handling of an investigation into undue influence allegations.
The open criticism from Hau and Hu highlights the concerns of KMT politicians about their future amid Ma’s weakening leadership and dropping approval ratings.
As Hau, Hu and others such as New Taipei Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) mull their next steps ahead of next year’s seven-in-one municipal elections, Ma and the KMT are struggling to finalize candidates for these key electoral districts.
According to the KMT’s nomination schedule, nomination procedures for the six special municipalities are to be completed after the Lunar New Year holiday in February next year.
Brushing aside the criticism, Ma yesterday attended a Christmas party organized by the New Taipei City Government, as scheduled, joining Chu and Hau in a show of unity.