Taiwan opposition leader phones new Premier Jiang Yi-huah

Su Tseng-chang tells Jiang to meet lawmakers first

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Democratic Progressive Party Chairman Su Tseng-chang phoned new Premier Jiang Yi-huah and told him to contact opposition lawmakers first, the government said Wednesday.
Jiang, who was sworn in last Monday, said during a visit to the Legislative Yuan on Tuesday that he wanted to meet all opposition party leaders within the near future.
Su phoned him at 10:20 Wednesday morning and both men talked for about 15 minutes, government spokeswoman Cheng Li-wun said. Since according to the Constitution, the Cabinet was responsible to the Legislative Yuan, Jiang should first visit the DPP legislative caucus, Su reportedly told the premier.
The opposition leader congratulated Jiang on his promotion and told him he was expecting a lot from him, Cheng said. In order to discuss important legislation, it was more proper for Jiang to meet with DPP lawmakers first, Su said. Later, when he was free, he would find the time to meet the new premier, the DPP leader reportedly said.
Su added that when he served as Taipei County magistrate and as premier, he had recruited officials from all sides of the political spectrum, and he reminded Jiang to do the same.
According to Cheng, Jiang hoped he could meet Su to exchange experiences about serving as premier. He would visit the legislative caucuses in any event, but out of politeness, he thought it more appropriate to meet with the party chairman first, Cheng quoted Jiang as saying.
The premier reportedly wanted to change Taiwan’s political culture and improve communication between ruling camp and opposition, which would result in more efficient legislative changes, Cheng said.
The Cabinet spokeswoman said the government felt the goodwill behind Su’s call and hoped this signaled a new beginning in relations with the opposition. The government would continue to interact with Su and seek his advice, while respecting his wishes for time and place, Cheng said.
DPP spokesman Lin Chun-hsien said before the conversation that the government should also first align opinions within the ruling Kuomintang about major topics such as the fourth nuclear plant and measures against the monopolization of the media. Lin reiterated the DPP’s demand that the government should not be pouring more money into the nuclear project but should order an immediate stop to its construction. On Tuesday, Su, former DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen and ex-Premier Frank Hsieh made the same demand, describing it as a top government priority.
The smaller opposition Taiwan Solidarity Union said that Jiang should really be willing to open discussions about important issues. If he just wanted to visit opposition leaders to explain his own policies without a true dialogue, then the meetings made no sense, the TSU said.
Members of the Control Yuan, the nation’s top government watchdog, said the Cabinet should first communicate with other government bodies before visiting the opposition.
When Jiang’s appointment was first announced, reactions were negative because he was seen as a favorite and confidant of President Ma Ying-jeou. Jiang rose within a few years from an unknown professor to become interior minister, vice premier and now premier. Critics said the government needed a premier who dared to work more independently from the president, but Jiang looked like the opposite. Ma was rumored to be guiding him to higher office, possibly mayor of Taipei or even vice president or president, commentators said.