Premier Su Tseng-chang resigned yesterday in a surprise move. The BBC has the news:

At a press conference in Taipei, Mr Su said his resignation had already been accepted by the president.

“To allow the president to strategise in the new environment, I am willing to co-operate and release myself and I have told this to the president and he has approved,” he said.

“Although I have given up my duties, I have not given up on Taiwan.”

Mr Su’s decision to resign followed his failure to win the first round of the DPP’s primary for the presidential election in March 2008.

Mr Hsieh surprised many by taking an 11 point lead over Mr Su, who many thought would be the front runner.

A second round had been planned, but Mr Su and the other two candidates announced they would step aside and support Mr Hsieh.

Mr Su reiterated that he accepted the result of the primary, despite accusations of corruption, smear tactics and party bias.

Su was a widely liked and relatively successful premier in a position that has long been a revolving door, opened whenever some scandal slaps the government. It is to his credit that he retained the post for long enough to make a mark, yet resigned without any scandal touching him.

An oddity of the BBC report, also repeated by the Taipei Times, is portraying Su as the front-runner in the DPP party primary. I talked about this with many people, and it was widely held that Hsieh was going to smoke Su, as he actually did. I did not meet a single person who thought that Su would win. Perhaps things were different up in Taipei…..

Why did Su resign? Time will tell. Perhaps to become Frank Hsieh’s running mate in the 2008 election, although Hsieh is often said to prefer Yeh Chu-lan. Hsieh-Su would be a powerful pairing, however.

One of Su’s last act was to unveil a government website aimed at documenting how the KMT looted Taiwan during its years of authoritarian rule. The BBC also has the call:

Taiwan’s prime minister has unveiled a website giving information about what the government says are assets stolen by the opposition Kuomintang (KMT).

The government claims the KMT amassed these assets when it governed Taiwan for more than five decades.

The KMT, it says, has land and property assets worth at least $1.4bn (£0.69bn) that should be returned to the nation.

Su Tseng-chang said the website would help public understanding of government efforts to recover the assets.

The website details land, property and investment companies and also lists subsidies that the KMT - now the main opposition party - allegedly gave to its business operations and organisations.

President Chen said he would announce a successor for the popular and competent Su on Saturday.

UPDATE: Chang Chun-hsiung is the new premier, according to Ralph Jennings of Reuters. A “political analyst” said:

The presidential office’s image will suffer because of the frequency of premier changes, political analysts say.

“If my assessment is accurate, people will think Chen Shui-bian has failed as president and the Democratic Progressive Party has failed as a government,” said George Tsai, a political analyst at National Cheng Chi University in Taiwan. “The new premier cannot make any substantial achievements.”

Sure. Everyone knows that the premier position is a revolving door. Lee Teng-hui had five different premiers, Chen has had six (five different people).