After he took office, President Chen Shui-bian (
Policy questions aside, the economic ministry and its chiefs have failed to perform well, even in the policymaking process itself. For example, each December the ministry holds a meeting on water resources, compiles a report and then makes its forecasts and plans for water resources for the coming year. Last December, however, then minister Lin Hsin-yi (
The ministry has yet to come up with any contingency measures, or show that it is taking steps to prevent similar mishaps. It appears to be hoping that Mother Nature will intervene to solve the current shortage. But the ministry's negligence and slow decision-making left farmers in the lurch. They had already begun cultivating new crops before the ministry awoke to the extent of the drought, and naturally they want the water to bring those crops to fruition. If they are finally ordered to leave their land fallow, the water they have accumulated will be wasted and the cost for the fallow-land plans will rise.
So farmers are angry and so is the industrial sector. Big business is unhappy with the ministry's failure to ensure priority is given to industrial-use water -- thereby threatening the manufacturers that are the foundation of the nation's economy. While the anger builds, the ministry dithers.
The question of whether or not to allow Taiwanese businesses to invest in eight-inch wafer fabs in China is a very technical issue. Even though the principles of "active opening, effective management" cover the lifting of investment restrictions, a special task force has been commissioned to study the issue. It's report is due by the end of the month. However, Lin, as Vice Premier and chairman of the Council for Economic Planning and Development, has hinted that there may be an early announcement. Tsung has also told the legislature that, in terms of allowing investment in China, "the quicker the better." Such comments indicate that the government decided long ago to allow such investments. So the special task force is simply window-dressing.
Timing and correctness are equally important in decision-making. The government's economics team has failed to grasp the gravity of the problems facing it and has little control over the timing of decision-making. Lin and Tsung have demonstrated a lack of professionalism, a lack of judgement and administrative ineptness. Lin especially appears to have been somewhat negligent. They have done much to damage the image of the DPP's political appointees.