His surprise turnaround has embarrassed the government Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian has created a storm of controversy at home by supporting opposition leader Lien Chan's visit to the mainland, despite criticism from his government and pro-independence groups. In a surprise comment while boarding a plane to the Marshall Islands on Sunday, Mr Chen said Mr Lien's mainland visit was commendable because he 'kept his promise not to sign any pact there'. Mr Chen was referring to the promise made by Mr Lien, chairman of the Kuomintang, a day before leaving for an eight-day visit to the mainland on April 26. Mr Lien told Mr Chen he would not sign any agreement that would encroach on the Taiwanese government's authority. Mr Chen, who initially poured scorn on Mr Lien's visit, said the five-point press communique issued by Mr Lien in Beijing after his meeting with mainland President Hu Jintao on Friday did not constitute an agreement. That comment contradicted an earlier reaction from the Mainland Affairs Council which stated that 'the issuance of the press communique is feared to have violated the law here'. Under Taiwanese law, any individual or party reaching or signing an agreement with the mainland could be charged with treason. The apparent contradiction has seriously embarrassed the government and the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, which has had a hard time explaining the reversal. 'I think [we] should go by President Chen's view,' said embarrassed council chairman Joseph Wu Jau-shieh during a grilling by opposition legislators. Mr Wu admitted that he knew nothing about the content of a message Mr Chen said he had asked opposition People First Party chairman James Soong Chu-yu to relay to the 'mainland leader' during his own visit there. Mr Chen revealed to reporters during his flight to the Marshall Islands that he had asked Mr Soong to carry a message to Mr Hu. DPP legislator Kuo Cheng-liang said the DPP caucus feared becoming 'psychologically deranged'. 'As a president, it is not the way to do things,' Mr Kuo said. He added that Mr Chen has shifted positions several times since reaching a 10-point consensus on cross-strait and internal political reconciliation with Mr Soong in February. 'He made us play the bad guy and he plays the good guy,' said Mr Kuo. 'But he is the one elected by the DPP and he must lead the party ... instead of asking his subordinates to criticise Lien Chan while praising Lien himself.' The pro-independence Taiwan Solidarity Union also criticised Mr Chen for trying to use Mr Lien and Mr Soong to befriend the mainland, saying it would cause the Taiwanese people to abandon him.