Premier Lai rescinds resignation, pledges to respect Taiwan's referendum results

Secretary-General to the President Chen Chu also agreed to stay on, according to the Presidential Office

Premier William Lai rescinds his resignation on No...

Premier William Lai rescinds his resignation on No...

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Premier William Lai (賴清德) said Monday he will stay on to carry out the government’s policies and reforms, even though his ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) suffered landslide defeats in the local elections Saturday, Nov. 24.

Lai said at Monday’s press conference that the election results reflect Taiwanese people’s dissatisfaction with the government’s policies. As the head of the Executive Yuan, Lai had hence tendered his resignation to the president shortly after the poll results came in.

However, after having a discussion with President Tsai on Sunday afternoon, Lai agreed to remain in office to help stabilize the government which has been shaken by the election results. He pledged to continue working to fulfill the government’s policies and reforms.

“We have a lot to reflect upon with such a failure in elections,” said the Premier, adding that his cabinet will take up the responsibility of reviewing current policy and making modifications that would meet people’s expectations. Saturday’s elections were seen as a public review of the first two years of the Tsai administration.

The DPP lost seven out of the 13 cities and counties it garnered in the previous local and regional elections in 2014 to the Kuomintang, including Kaohsiung City, which has been ruled by the DPP for two decades and long been considered a DPP stronghold.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) announced that she would step down as the DPP chairwoman after the election results were clear. “As this party’s chair, I take full responsibility for the outcome of today’s local elections,” said the President at a press conference held on Saturday evening.

Prior to the press conference, both Premier Lai and Secretary-General to the President Chen Chu (陳菊) offered their resignation to the president. Yet both of them retracted their decision, and agreed to continue in office.

Earlier reports suggest that Secretary-general Chen was determined to leave her post and return to Kaohsiung City, where she was mayor before moving to Taipei City in April.

Yet the Presidential Office released a statement on Monday morning, asserting that Chen has agreed to rescind her resignation.

As Secretary-General, Chen will remain in office to help President Tsai engage more comprehensively in dialogues on important social issues, as well as the government’s policies and reforms, according to Presidential Office Spokesperson Alex Huang (黃重諺).

The premier also said on Monday that his cabinet fully respects the national referendum results. Seven out of ten referendums passed the threshold of about 4.94 million votes, including the pro-nuke and anti-gay marriage propositions.

Speaking on the 16th referendum proposition, Lai did not specify whether the Tsai administration will continue to push for its “Nuclear-free Homeland” policy that aims to decommission all of the three operating nuclear power plants in Taiwan by 2025. However, he said this issue will have to be discussed with DPP lawmakers in the cabinet and Legislative Yuan, before making further decisions.

On the other hand, the Premier said the government will continue promoting the development of renewable energy as was planned.

The pro-nuclear referendum asked whether voters agree to repeal a paragraph in Article 95 of the Electricity Act, which states that all nuclear-energy-based power-generating facilities shall cease to operate by 2025. It obtained 5,895,560 positive votes, with 4,014,215 votes against the referendum, according to the Central Election Commission (CEC).

The paragraph in Article 95 of the Electricity Act is expected to be revoked within three days of the CEC’s official submission of the referendum results.

According to the Referendum Act, the CEC must officially submit the referendum results within seven days of concluding the national vote.