Sat, Dec 29, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Premier mum on date of departure, change of heart

SUPPORTING TSAI:Premier William Lai did not comment on views that the president’s policies were to blame for election losses, urging the DPP to unite in support of Tsai

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

From left, Cabinet spokeswoman Kolas Yotaka, Premier William Lai, Vice Premier Shih Jun-ji and Executive Yuan Secretary-General Cho Jung-tai smile during the Executive Yuan’s year-end news conference in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times

Premier William Lai (賴清德) was yesterday tight-lipped about when he would resign, as well as his career plan, saying only that the Cabinet would press on with its goal to improve people’s lives no matter who the next premier is.

The Executive Yuan yesterday held a year-end news conference, at which Lai, Vice Premier Shih Jun-ji (施俊吉) and Executive Yuan Secretary-General Cho Jung-tai (卓榮泰) reviewed policies introduced over the past year.

However, as soon as Executive Yuan spokeswoman Kolas Yotaka opened the floor to questions, the premier was swamped with media queries about his career plan.

On Dec. 7, Lai said that he would step down “when the time is right” to take political responsibility for the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) bruising losses in the Nov. 24 local elections.

He yesterday equivocated when asked to expand on that remark and whether the “right time” is Jan. 11, when a planned extraordinary session at the Legislative Yuan to review the general budget is scheduled to close.

Comparing policy implementation to a running train, he said: “People will get on and off, but the train will roll on until it reaches its destination, a better place, where people can live better lives.”

Asked whether he plans to run for president in 2020, after pro-independence groups on Thursday urged President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) not to seek re-election, Lai urged all party members and all groups that identify with the party’s vision to demonstrate unity by following Tsai’s leadership and showing their support for the president.

In such trying times for the DPP, the party cannot afford to succumb to infighting, which would only complicate governance for the administration in the lead-up to the presidential election, he said.

Lai again sidestepped questions as to whether he has considered staying after Tsai and the nation’s six major business associations urged him to continue serving, and why he insisted on resigning, even though pension reforms and the “one fixed day off, one flexible rest day” policy — which Lai blamed for the election rout — were pushed through by Tsai.

“I feel that you are trying to persuade me to stay by asking me these questions,” Lai told reporters. “Thank you for the friendship you have shown me… I will answer questions about myself in due time.”

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