Su to replace Lai, report says

PREMIER REDUX?:Su Tseng-chang reportedly reluctantly agreed to the appointment after the president and William Lai entreated him to do so

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

Fri, Dec 28, 2018 - Page 3

The Presidential Office yesterday was mum on reports that former premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) would take over as premier in the middle of next month, because Premier William Lai (賴清德) is determined to resign to assume responsibility for the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) losses in the Nov. 24 nine-in-one elections.

The Chinese-language Next Magazine on Wednesday night reported that Su had agreed to take up the post shortly before then-Minister of Education Yeh Jiunn-rong (葉俊榮) on Monday unexpectedly approved the appointment of National Taiwan University president-elect Kuan Chung-min (管中閔).

Su, 71, was initially reluctant to serve again as premier, and it was not until after President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), Presidential Office Secretary-General Chen Chu (陳菊) and Lai entreated him that he finally agreed to the appointment, the report said.

Tsai had tried to persuade Lai to stay, but the premier was steadfast in his resolve to resign over the DPP’s loss in the local elections, it said.

Widely viewed as a potential DPP candidate in the 2020 presidential election, Lai plans to travel abroad to “do some thinking and re-energize himself,” it added.

The Presidential Office has not released any such information, spokesman Alex Huang (黃重諺) said.

Local media reports added that Su had started soliciting potential Cabinet members, which include former DPP Kaohsiung mayoral candidate Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) and former Taichung mayor Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍).

Chen Chi-mai would be appointed vice premier, while Lin would assume the post of Environmental Protection Administration minister, a position vacated by Lee Ying-yuan (李應元), who resigned after the elections, reports said.

When asked to comment, Lin said he had not heard about the appointment.

“One does not need to be a government official to contribute [to the nation],” he said on the sidelines of an event to raise awareness about caring for people with disabilities in Taichung.

Chen Chi-mai could not be reached for comment yesterday.

DPP Legislator Rosalia Wu (吳思瑤) said that if the reports were true, Su, a senior DPP member, would be a “reassuring” pick for premier during these “tumultuous” times, as he would be able to bring a party that is still reeling from its election loss back on track.

Su has a well-rounded resume, she said, adding that having served as commissioner of then-Taipei County and premier, he is well-versed in formulating and pushing policies.

Chen Chi-mai, having served as a lawmaker, Presidential Office deputy secretary-general and Cabinet spokesman, could improve communication between the office, the Cabinet and the party, thereby streamlining efforts within the party, she said.

As the appointment of a premier is in the president’s purview, the Executive Yuan has no comment on the issue, Cabinet spokeswoman Kolas Yotaka said.