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Ma said to pick Siew for 2008 race

Vincent C. Siew, a former premier and vice presidential candidate, is widely speculated as the running mate most likely to be selected by Kuomintang (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou.

Ma, who is set to announce his running mate today, has persistently declined to reveal his selection or comment on media reports.

A senior KMT official confirmed Ma’s imminent announcement of his vice presidential candidate, but he also declined to reveal Ma’s choice.

Ma, a former chairman of the KMT and former mayor of Taipei City, has kept the nation guessing about his vice presidential partner after Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng turned down the offer late last month.

Without revealing the sources of their reports, Taiwan television stations reported Siew has been personally chosen by Ma as his vice presidential candidate.

Siew, 68, seems to have met all the major criteria set by Ma.

A native of southwestern Chiayi, Siew began his public service in the fields of diplomacy and economic affairs.

He was later appointed to key positions such as Minister of Economic Affairs from 1990 to 1993, chairman of the Council for Economic Planning and Development and chief of the Mainland Affairs Council, a top government agency that formulates policies toward China.

Siew also held other political posts, including serving as a lawmaker, the chief of the organizing and development committee of the KMT and vice chairman of the same party.

He became premier under President Lee Teng-hui between 1997 and 2000, and the KMT vice presidential candidate on the same ticket with former Vice President Lien Chan in 2000.

After leaving government office, Siew has been leading a major economic think tank and actively engaged in cultivating closer economic and trade relations with China, including pushing for the establishment of a “greater China common market” covering Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, and other areas of ethnic Chinese communities.

Siew is believed to have cemented close personal relations with top leaders in Beijing in his advocacy of promoting closer cross-strait relations to pave the way for tighter political ties in the future.

There were other possible candidates that had been named earlier in the guessing game, including former Vice Premier Tsai Ing-wen, who just stepped down last month.

Several businessmen and scholars have also been named, and former National Taiwan University President Chen Wei-chao has been said to be among the short-listed candidates.

The United Evening News said Chen, 68, yesterday declined to comment on the chances of his serving as Ma’s running mate.

The paper said in the 2000 presidential election, then independent candidate James Soong — now chairman of the People First Party — had asked Chen to be his running mate.

But Chen declined the offer because he was still head of the NTU at the time, the paper said.

The paper cited sources as claiming that when Chen’s name was mentioned as a possible candidate during a KMT internal meeting, it attracted great interest.

The sources declined to say whether Ma had talked to Chen about the candidacy, according to the paper.

Premier Frank Hsieh — Ma’s contender from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party — has also yet to announce his running mate.

President Chen Shui-bian yesterday stressed that he will only give Hsieh advice on picking the running mate, and that the presidential candidate will have the final say.

The president urged supporters to remain patient and respect whatever choice he makes.

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Ma said to pick Siew for 2008 race
Vincent C. Siew, a former premier and vice presidential candidate, is widely speculated as the running mate most likely to be selected by Kuomintang (KMT) presidential candidate ...

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