SCMP Saturday, May 20, 2000

Chen, cabinet take oath of office

REUTERS in Taipei

Last updated at 10.05am:
Chen Shui-bian was sworn in as Taiwan's president on Saturday in the island's first ever democratic transfer of power.

Mr Chen, wearing a dark suit and a red tie, took his oath before the national flag and a portrait of Sun Yat-sen, the founding father of the Republic of China - Taiwan's official name - as the island's second president to be directly elected.

Taiwan's top judicial official, Weng Yueh-sheng, administered the oath at the presidential palace in Taipei with Mr Chen's predecessor Lee Teng-hui, top government officials and foreign dignitaries in attendance.

Following straight on from Mr Chen at 9.40am, Taiwan Premier Tang Fei and his coalition cabinet took the oath of office.

Mr Tang, 68, a former defence minister, is a veteran of the Nationalist Party. His military background is seen assuaging doubts from conservatives and Beijing over President Chen Shui-bian's pro-independence past.

Mr Tang will lead a 44-member coalition cabinet, composed of members ranging from cautious economic officials poached from the previous administration to former activists who cut their political teeth leading labour and environmental protests.