Mon, May 27, 2002 - Page 8 News List

Decision-making must be improved

By Chiu Hei-yuan 瞿海源

Both the ruling and the opposition camps have walked a rocky road since the nation's first transfer of power. Still, Taiwan must go forward. Not only does the ruling camp have to overcome difficulties brought by the transition, but the opposition camp has to learn what democratic politics really are. In view of recent developments, the next two years will be a time of initiating reform.

Since President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) will serve concurrently as DPP chairman, his leadership style and personal characteristics will significantly influence future political development. In addition, government decision-making mechanisms and organizational efficiency will surely determine his success in the years to come.

It's already a done deal that the president will serve concurrently as DPP chairman with former premier Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄) as party secretary-general. It's still too early to predict the results of this so-called "synchronization of the party and the administration." However, there should be some fundamental regulations controlling such a leadership.

Since it would be very easy for Chen to monopolize all powers after seizing the chairman's seat, it is necessary to exclude the possibility of an authoritarian rule. Although Chen himself is pretty confident, it is a new political operation involving various factors both inside and outside the party. The leadership must firmly stand by the spirit of democracy while cautiously dealing with the issue.

To be specific, how should the president's decisions be weighted when he is also serving as party chairman? How can the party's Central Standing Committee effectively participate in the

decision-making process? How will the party maintain its diversity, and how will the DPP legislative caucus maintain its auto-nomy? These concerns need to be cleared and regulated by building a new democratic system.

In terms of decision-making mechanisms, how can the president's decisions be made in accordance with the law while the chairman's decisions are made in accordance with the DPP platform? In terms of government decision-making, the Presidential Office's legally-defined powers rarely involve making national policy.

Nevertheless, the Cabinet usually makes decisions with help of the Presidential Office or by holding meetings outside the government system -- such as the Eco-nomic Development Advisory Conference. Sometimes it also establishes various advisory groups -- such as the Government Reform Committee, the Cross-Party Task Force on Cross-Strait Affairs and the Consultative Committee on Science and Technology.

The effectiveness of decisions and suggestions made by these meetings or groups needs to be thoroughly evaluated. No ideal decision can be made without sufficient professional research and preparation. During the decision-making process, these meetings or groups must include voices from all sides.

For example, the government reform plan is solely drawn up by the Government Reform Committee under the Presidential Office. Obviously, the committee needs to take in opinions from all sides in order to make appropriate adjustments to its plans.

As the party and the administration will be synchronized in the near future, the decision-making model between the Presidential Office, the Executive Yuan, the Legislative Yuan and the ruling party needs to be planned in advance. For this part, an authoritarian mode of decision-making should be avoided.

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