President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) never considered inviting Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) to form a cabinet, a Presidential Office official said yesterday in a bid to stop the media from further speculating on the subject.
"The office has repeatedly clarified by written and oral statements that President Chen has never intended to invite (Legislative Yuan) President Wang to form a cabinet. President Wang has also repeatedly denied the reports," said Deputy Presidential Secretary-General James Huang (黃志芳).
Huang was forced to comment on the Chen-Wang conjecture at a news conference held yesterday to rebut a report that the president's hope of inviting Wang to form a Cabinet in February was doomed.
The report suggested that Chen made Wang look bad after delivering a New Year's message that contradicted what he had revealed to the legislative speaker the previous day.
In his speech made on Sunday, Chen pledged to handle future cross-strait exchanges through "proactive management and effective liberalization," a phrase many interpreted as signaling a tighter economic approach to China.
A day earlier, however, after receiving a call from Ma Yung-cheng, another deputy presidential secretary-general, Wang told reporters he believed that President Chen would make a speech in favor of further liberalizating cross-strait exchanges.
The China Times, which first disclosed early last December that the president was thinking of asking Wang to form a cabinet, published an analysis yesterday saying that the idea was no longer feasible after the differences in messages delivered by the two political figures.
In dismissing the report, Huang reiterated that President Chen and the legislative speaker maintained a mutual respect.
He also insisted that the version of the speech relayed by Ma to Wang was identical to that delivered by the president last Sunday, countering media speculation that Chen altered a major part of the speech, leading to Wang's embarrassment.
Huang endorsed the Buddhist saying Wang has used previously to urge an end to the conjecture that he might be named premier: "As there was nothing to begin with, how can dust gather?"
"We hope that the involved media will stop making similar claims to upset society," Huang urged.
The legislative speaker later sympathized with the Presidential Office's need to address the issue again, saying the media had "overstated" the story.
According to Wang, the continued conjecture made him feel that "some people keep worrying that I am going to form a Cabinet."