President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday accepted the role of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman, promising to lead the party to victory in next year's legislative and presidential elections.
Chen also announced that Deputy Presidential Office Secretary-General Cho Jung-tai (卓榮泰) and DPP Secretary-General Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) would swap positions.
Chen told a press conference that the DPP position was not an extension of his powers, but rather of his responsibility, adding that he would like to see those insisting on Taiwan-centered policies and pursuing social justice continue to serve the 23 million people of Taiwan.
Describing his second job as being a "carrier of a sedan chair," Chen said he and DPP presidential candidate Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) would not have problems coordinating their efforts because he felt that Hsieh should decide on matters of campaign strategy.
"Those who help carry the sedan chair must not drive away its occupant," he said. "The sedan's occupant gives orders and tells the carriers where to go, while the carriers must warn the occupant about any dangers so he can decide where to go."
Chen called former DPP chairman Yu Shyi-kun irreplaceable, adding that it would be a pity if Yu did not participate in the campaign team.
Chen said that since he would be out of the country for four days, he had asked Cho to consult with Yu, Hsieh and his running mate Su Tseng-chang (
Chen said he hoped to recruit other talented people to work with the DPP and see outstanding legislators work for the party's goals.
Looking ahead, Chen said that the referendum on whether the nation should apply for UN membership under the name "Taiwan" would be the "goal and sole focal point" of the elections.
He said the Referendum Law (
With the DPP having reached the second phase of the application process for holding a referendum, Chen said that he hoped the referendum would be held alongside the presidential election on March 22.
Chen said that he did not think the Constitution would be amended or a new constitution enacted before March next year because the legislature had no plans to do so and because it would require approval of three quarters of the Legislative Yuan.
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus ridiculed Chen for accepting the DPP chairmanship, saying that it would be easier for him to "embezzle" public funds once in control of both the DPP and the government.
At a separate press conference, KMT legislative whip Kuo Su-chun (郭素春) urged the president to reflect on his administrative performance over the past seven years as well as Standard & Poor's latest economic evaluation of the nation.
The ratings service gave Taiwan a negative outlook on Wednesday based on what is said were long-term problems, including cross-strait tensions. Of the Asia-Pacific countries rated in the report, only Taiwan and Fiji received negative ratings.
Additional reporting by Flora Wang
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