Ruling Democratic Progressive Party Chairman-elect Yu Shyi-kun (游錫堃) yesterday painted the Cabinet's proposal to seek a veto on parts of the central government's 2006 budget as reckless because had not consulted the Presidential Office or the party on the matter.
Yu, who won the DPP leadership Sunday on a platform to promote closer ties between the party and the government, said Premier Frank Hsieh's (謝長廷) veto plan has hurt the party after the Presidential Office voiced reservation and DPP lawmakers complained about being kept in the dark.
"The (veto) incident has hurt the DPP image because Hsieh failed to notify the Presidential Office, the party and its legislative caucus, of his intention before breaking the news to the media," Yu said during a radio interview.
The Cabinet threatened last Thursday to file a veto motion on parts of the 2006 budget after the opposition-controlled Legislature slashed NT$36 billion and froze another NT246 billion from the outlays of different agencies.
No chance of success
The next day, the premier was slated to elaborate on the veto motion but canceled the news conference, allegedly on the advice of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁). Analysts say Chen is worried the veto may further deflate DPP morale in light of the party's underdog status in the lawmaking body.
But Yu said Hsieh should have called a meeting of the Presidential Office, the Cabinet, the party leadership and DPP lawmakers both to build a consensus and work out a strategy in dealing with the matter.
"The veto motion has no chance of success if the government and the party fail to reach a consensus," the incoming DPP chair said. "Hsieh should have involved the party in the decision-making process. The party can help convince the public of the government's policies."
Yu said that securing closer cooperation between the party and the government can also help end instances of DPP chairs stepping down to shoulder blame for things in which they play no role.
Yu was referring to his predecessor Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), who resigned in early December to take responsibility for the DPP defeat in the elections for local governors. Most analysts, however, have said the Chen administration is to blame for the debacle.
Meanwhile, Yu said his ambiguous stance toward the issue of the 2008 election should not be interpreted as indication that he intends to compete for the nomination.
He stressed that none of his colleagues had ever pledged to abstain from presidential races in exchange for support for the DPP chairmanship and he considered it ill-advised to set such a precedent in violation of the party's democratic tradition.
"Staying noncommittal doesn't mean I will seek the nomination," Yu said. "I just don't want to engage any tradeoffs."
On the campaign trail, DPP lawmaker Trong Chai (蔡同榮) had said he was not interested in the 2008 presidency and would content himself with the role of campaigner, if elected.
Meanwhile, Yu also dismissed criticism he ran in the chairmanship race at the behest of President Chen, saying that a desire to restore DPP morale prompted him to throe his hat into the ring.
A co-founder of the DPP, Yu said he could not stay on the sidelines as the party suffered its biggest crisis after the election defeat.