Greater Tainan City Mayor William Lai (賴清德) was “muted” by Executive Yuan spokesperson Sun Lih-chyun (孫立群), in an attempt to minimize the damage to the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) following Lai’s allegations that the party was in violation of political ethics and that it was interfering in the legal procedures of national institutions, netizens alleged.
Lai, the only municipal mayor to appear at the meeting, said on Facebook that he had suggested three measures to the central government in regard to the recent outbreak of avian influenza, including full compensation by the government for farmers whose flocks had to be exterminated; the guarantee of no interest rates for all loans taken out by farmers; and the adherence to market prices for all replacement subsidies.
Lai also said on Facebook that he had brought up the issue of violations to ethics and democratic systems to Premier Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國) during the meeting.
Lai’s comments referred to the televised coverage of Council of Agriculture (COA) Minister Chen Bao-ji (陳保基) giving a report to the first KMT Central Standing Committee, chaired by newly elected KMT Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫). Chu also gave directives on how the influenza crisis is to be handled.
While the public might accept such action when President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) had doubled as party chairman on grounds that the government and party were in unison, that a central government official is still reporting in the party’s committee meeting might be in direct contravention of the democratic system, Lai said.
Lai said that as New Taipei City mayor, Chu had to follow orders on how the council handled the outbreak, adding that Chu’s directives might contravene political ethics as he could be superseding the premier, to whom the COA minister reports.
The Executive Yuan should nip this problem in the bud if it does not wish to contend with future confusion of policy and direction, Lai said, adding that his suggestions were in the hope that the government would not become too biased in one political direction over the next year.
Mao replied that the year heralded new starts and the government would look into Lai’s suggestions.
Sun refused to convey Lai’s comments to the media after the meeting, saying only that “Lai’s comments would perhaps appear on his Facebook soon.”
Sun’s answer was seen by netizens as a conscious attempt to mitigate damage to the party and suspected tension between Chu and Mao.
Netizens said that if Facebook has taken the place of an Executive Yuan spokesperson, then Sun is free to leave his post, while others said that Lai’s comments were not mentioned because they were detrimental to the KMT.
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