President Chen Shui-bian did not invite Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng to
form a Cabinet during their latest meeting on Saturday, the Presidential Office
said last night in a press release.
"The president did not invite Wang to form a Cabinet during their meeting," the
press release stated, rebutting reports that claimed Chen had invited Wang to
be the new premier during their closed-door meeting Saturday.
The statement came less than three hours after Kuomintang Chairman Ma
Ying-jeou's (馬英九) claim that Chen had made such an invitation to Wang.
Ma held an unusual news briefing at Taipei Main Station at 2:30 p.m yesterday
to announce that Wang had phoned and informed him of the president's invitation.
"I learned from (Legislative Yuan) President Wang this morning that the
president had invited him to form a Cabinet," Ma told reporters. "The KMT
recognizes the president's will to break the current political deadlock by
seeking inter-party cooperation to form a Cabinet," Ma commented, continuing
that considering the interests of the whole country and society, "The KMT is
willing to give a friendly response to the idea."
However, Ma went on to say that the prerequisite for Wang's serving as premier
would have to be a "party-to-party consultation" between the Democratic
Progressive Party and the KMT on the matter.
Ma asserted that under the R.O.C. Constitution, the nation should practice a
dual-leadership system, whereby the majority party should form the Cabinet,
complying with democratic principles, though he said the KMT would not take the
initiative in asking to form a Cabinet.
Ma continued by saying that the Constitution empowered the president to take
control of cross-strait and diplomatic affairs, but since there is a big
difference between the cross-strait policies of the ruling and opposition
parties, consultations on policy are essential.
But the presidential press release issued three hours later refuted Ma's
disclosure. The statement began by denying that President Chen had offered Wang
such an invitation, though it acknowledged that "the president did express the
hope of promoting inter-party cooperation and reconciliation between the ruling
and the opposition parties during the meeting" with Wang.
An hour after Ma's disclosure, Wang also confirmed that he met President Chen
Saturday afternoon. However his remarks contradicted Ma's early contentions.
Wang said that President Chen discussed bills, policy and Cabinet formation
with him during Saturday's meeting, seeking cooperation between the DPP and
opposition parties. The legislative speaker said he recommended Ma as a
candidate for premier, saying that, "Since he is the chairman of the largest
opposition party it would be very suitable for him to form a Cabinet."
Ma emphasized later yesterday that Wang did indeed inform him of the
president's invitation in their phone conversation in the morning. The KMT
chairman stressed that, had Wang not told him of Chen's invitation, he would
not have convened the extraordinary ad hoc press conference.