President Chen open to possible political partners in coalition

The China Post staff

President Chen Shui-bian has not ruled out the possibility of cooperating with any political party in the formation of a coalition government after the year-end legislative elections, a ruling party lawmaker said yesterday. “President Chen has told us that he regards every opposition party as a friend, not an enemy, and that every opposition party could be a cooperative partner in forming a coalition government,” Legislator Shen Fu-hsiung said after a three-hour meeting with Chen. Shen was among the 13 Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators met with Chen at the Presidential Office yesterday for wide-ranging talks. “Chen told us that although he would not forsake his constitutional right to name a premier, he is willing to share administrative power and resources with other political parties,” Shen recalled. “The president also told us that he has never said he would only nominate a DPP stalwart to head the Cabinet,” Shen claimed, adding that he was moved by Chen’s open-mindedness. No party is expected to emerge as the majority party from the year-end legislative elections. Against this backdrop, local politicians and pundits have been debating how Chen should form a new Cabinet after the elections to ensure smooth government operations, particularly its working relationship with the new Legislative Yuan. Chen was quoted as having told the DPP lawmakers that he thinks it’s still premature to talk about cooperation with any specific political party in forming a coalition government.

“Any political party is likely to be our cooperative partner. I has never deleted any party from the possible partner list,” Chen was quoted. During the meeting, Chen reportedly also described as “unfair and unjust” the opposition camp’s recent castigations of former President Lee Teng-hui. “My observation was that Lee has recently talked about politics mainly because he is concerned about Taiwan’s well-being,” Chen was quoted as having told DPP lawmakers. “He was mainly driven by his strong sense of responsibility and strong sense of mission,” Chen said, adding that he fully supports the four policy directions touted by Lee recently. The four directions referred to stabilizing the domestic political situation, revitalizing the sagging economy, consolidating Taiwan’s democratic system and pushing for Taiwan’s further progress. The three main opposition parties — the Kuomintang, the People First Party and the New Party — have been slamming Lee for his plan to form a new political grouping to join the year-end legislative elections. However, President Chen was quoted as having told DPP lawmakers that he doesn’t think that Lee is really meant to form a new political group to compete with opposition parties. Touching on the plan to form a new presidential economic advisory board, Chen said as financial and economic issues are top concerns of local people, he hopes all political parties can shelve their ideological differences and sincerely cooperate in working out effective strategies to address the current economic woes and sustain Taiwan’s economic growth.