Chen-Wang row rumors denied

NOT TRUE: The Presidential Office denied a rumored spat between the legislative speaker and the president and reiterated that Wang had not been asked to be premier

By Chiu Yu-tzu and Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Wed, Jan 04, 2006 - Page 3

After denying local media reports that relations between the president and the legislative speaker had broken down, the Presidential Office yesterday also hinted that the latter will not be asked to become the new premier.

Presidential Office Deputy Secretary-General James Huang (黃志芳) held a press conference yesterday to rebut local media reports that said President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng's (王金平) relationship had become hostile.

The report said that because the relationship between the two has become so strained, forming a new Cabinet including members of the pan-blue camp is now mission impossible.

Saying he was sorry to read such rumors in the newspapers, Huang yesterday stressed that Chen had even passed some of the main points of his New Year address on to Wang beforehand as a mark of his respect for the speaker.

As for the rumor that Wang will form the new Cabinet, Huang reiterated that "there will be no such thing."

"If it's true, why would the president send Wang to Honduras as his envoy? It's very time-consuming to perform a reshuffle," Huang said, referring to news that Wang will attend the inauguration ceremony for Honduras' new president Manuel Zelaya on Chen's behalf on the 27th of this month.

Wang yesterday called for an end to the speculation concerning the premiership, saying that the president has never asked him to lead the Cabinet.

"Let's end all the excitement over the issue right here, right now," he said. "I don't want to talk about it any more."

Wang said he has said on several occasions that the president has never asked him to lead a reshuffled Cabinet.

Besides, "some people" would not be not very happy if the president did make the offer, he said.

Wang emphasized that it is the jurisdiction of the president to appoint the premier and both the governing and opposition parties should respect the president's constitutional power.

He also reiterated that it would require extensive party-to-party negotiations if the ruling party wished to recruit personnel from the opposition camp.

When asked whether he was unhappy about the Presidential Office holding a press conference to dismiss the speculation, Wang said he should thank the Presidential Office for clearing things up.

"Why should I feel upset about it? I want to thank [Huang] for clarifying the matter," Wang said.

Wang said he recommended Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to the president during their meeting and if Ma is interested, the two should sit down and talk.

Wang also dismissed media reports claiming that he was fooled by the president regarding his New Year address.

"What is there to fool me about?" he said. "Nobody should try to fool anybody, and anyway, who would want to fool me?"

In response to local media reports that former KMT chairman Lien Chan (連戰) had reportedly urged him to form the Cabinet so as to "fulfill the expectations of Taiwan's people," Ma yesterday reiterated that a pan-blue Cabinet is impossible.

"This is not something chairman Lien would say. He told me exactly the opposite when we met the other day ? He knows it is impossible [for any pan-blue figure to form a Cabinet]," Ma said.

Lien met with independent legislators yesterday. After the meeting, independent Legislator Lin Pin-kun (林炳坤) told the press that Lien said Ma should not reject such an idea since the people expect the pan-blue camp to form the Cabinet.

"Since Ma is thinking about running in the 2008 presidential election, he should consider the possibility of becoming the next premier," Lin said, quoting Lien's remarks.

Director of Lien's office Ting Yuan-chao (丁遠超), however, denied that Lien had made such remarks.

Additional reporting by Mo Yan-chih