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Premier Lai best option to lead Cabinet: President Tsai

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TAIPEI,  (CNA).- President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Friday reiterated her wish for Premier Lai Ching-te (賴清德) to remain in his position, saying it was the best option for the nation and the consensus reached by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) leaders.

Almost all of the DPP leaders with whom she has spoken agreed that urging Lai to stay on would be best for the current political situation, policy continuity and the nation's development, Tsai said in conversations with reporters at her residence.

Lai offered a verbal resignation to Tsai on election night to take political responsibility for the DPP's heavy defeat in the Nov. 24 local government elections.

He said then that the election result was a reflection of public dissatisfaction with the government's performance, for which he had to shoulder responsibility.

Tsai did not accept his resignation and he agreed to stay on the next day for the sake of political stability and continuity.

But on Dec. 7, Lai said he would step down "when the time is right" because he considered taking political responsibility to be the "supreme value of democracy" that should never be contradicted.

It has been widely speculated that Lai's last day as premier will be when the 2019 government budget bill passes the Legislature, potentially on Jan. 11.

According to Tsai, the DPP leaders and factions she has talked to about a possible change of premier included former Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), who has been rumored to be Lai's successor, and the New Tide faction, a group of which Lai is a member.

Since Lai took up the premiership more than a year ago, he has accomplished a lot and moved the nation forward, Tsai said.

"He is familiar with policies and has been working hard. At this time of difficulty, Lai Ching-te should stay on the job and continue to work hard with everybody."

Asked by reporters whether she has asked Su about his willingness to replace Lai, Tsai said she had not, relating that the only conclusion reached at her meeting with Su was to urge Lai to stay put.

(By Wen Kuei-hsiang and Shih Hsiu-chuan)

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Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwán