Premier calls on political parties to seek consensus

The China Post staff and CNA

The premier yesterday called for more effort from the political parties to seek consensus on economic issues and resolve political differences. The request came in response to the opposition Kuomintang’s threat to withdraw from an economic advisory council comprised of members from both ruling and opposition parties as well as of scholars and business representatives.

Speaking at the second preparatory committee meeting, Premier Chang Chun-hsiung, the committee’s convener, said he hopes that the advisory council will place more emphasis on economic rather than political issues. Chang said that if the 120 members of the advisory body could not reach sweeping consensus on certain issues, the relative majority and even minority opinions would still be valuable to the government. Chang said such a process will ensure “the highest degree of respect for all parties involved in the decision-making process.”

The 35 members of the preparatory committee will finalize such details as the type of decision-making process to adopt, the range of issues to be addressed by the advisory council and the exact membership of the advisory committee.

A nine-member ad hoc task force was appointed to narrow down the specific topics to be handled by the advisory committee. The task force is slated to meet Wednesday to discuss its recommendations.

The idea of forming the advisory committee was proposed by President Chen Shui-bian in May, on the first anniversary of his inauguration as president.

He pledged to chair the committee that will solicit the opinions of experts and scholars on how to reform the nation’s sagging economy. The council will convene its first meeting next month and serve as an economic advisory body to the president. The preparatory meeting yesterday decided that “several” vice chairman positions would be established under the advisory organ’s chairman, President Chen Shui-bian. Participants in the council’s second preparatory meeting concluded that Chen would be empowered to appoint the vice chairmen from among the 10 advisory members that he was already prepared to recommend.

Meanwhile, the 35-member preparatory committee released a preliminary list of the remaining members of the 120-member advisory committee.

Some of the notable members recommended in the preparatory meeting to serve on the advisory committee are China Development Industrial Bank chairman Liu Tai-ying, Acer Group chairman Stan Shih and Common Wealth magazine publisher Diane Ying.

The ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), the opposition People First Party, the opposition New Party, the independent alliance and the super-party alliance have all submitted their lists to the committee.

However, as of Sunday noon, the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) had yet to reveal its list of recommended members.

Also, Lien Chan, KMT Chairman and his People First Party counterpart James Soong have not agreed to be the vice chairmen of the council, the China Times Express reported.

Recent events suggested that the KMT may back out of the council in retaliation to a plan reportedly proposed by President Chen Shui-bian to investigate the KMT’s party assets.

It has described the ruling DPP as “lacking in sincerity” following reports that the DPP might be prepared to investigate the KMT’s party assets as a focal point in the DPP’s campaign against the KMT in the year-end legislative elections.